Sagging pants, plunging necklines and visible underwear are usually acceptable at a bar or night club, but not necessarily on a college campus.Since fall 2009, Tyler Junior College has had a new set of dress guidelines that students are expected to follow. Damien Williams who is the director of Judicial Programs at TJC wrote the newest addition to the dress code last semester.”I want people to know that we’re not the fashion police,” Williams said. “It’s not really a dress code. It is more of guidelines for the students to go by. I wrote them last semester to say what is expected of the students when they are on campus or at school-related functions.” Although these rules should be known campus wide, many students had no idea that there is such a thing as “dress guidelines.””No. I did not know there was a dress code. I had not seen or heard anything about it,” first semester student Angela Crowson said. According to the Student Code of Conduct, students should dress in a manner that reflects high standards of personal self-image so that each student may share in promoting a positive, healthy and safe atmosphere within the college community. Students who are not following guidelines of appropriate dress when advised by a college official shall be considered in violation of the Tyler Junior College Student Code of Conduct and will be subject to disciplinary actions.The new guidelines written by Williams include but are not limited to: “Dress and grooming/(indecent, lewd) clothing that expose intimate body parts (underwear, cleavage, etc) shall not disrupt the classroom or academic environment or cause undue attention to an individual student. Classroom instructors and College staff in charge of College events reserve the right to refuse entrance to students dressed in any prohibited attire.”Williams said students who are first-time offenders will be asked to change or fix their “wardrobe malfunction” or not to wear the offensive or distracting item again. “If a person is caught not following the rules frequently they will be asked to visit my office and we will go over certain ways to dress for success or talk with them about programs that they can attend to learn how to dress more appropriately,” Williams said. “This process should be looked at as more of an educational experience instead of a punishment.”
These dress guidelines can be enforced anywhere on the TJC campus and at school-sponsored functions. Williams feels that if the campus and its students look appropriate, it gives the school and the people who attend it a better image and makes a better impression on newcomers who are interested in taking classes at TJC. If they don’t cooperate, students can find themselves refused entrance into a classroom, school dance or sporting event.Although faculty is or has been cracking down on the way students dress, many feel that college should be a time to express themselves and think that no matter how hard teachers or authorities try to tell them how to dress, it is not going to change anything. “I think no matter what the written dress code is, people are going to dress how they want,” student Angela Crowson said. “Most high schools have a dress code, and a lot are very strict, so college students who are beginning to establish themselves as adults and enjoying their new freedom are not very likely to let their school tell them how to dress.”People around the campus notice inappropriately dressed students and some believe it gives TJC a bad image. “I’ve seen people with their pants almost around their knees,” second-semester student Aniekan Isong said. “I think the way people dress on campus does give TJC a bad name or makes it look not as good to incoming students.”Williams said that he has spoken to friends in the Navarro area as well as the Dallas County Community College district and they claim to have their own share of inappropriately dressed students but have not yet begun to address those issues. He feels the dress problem is not only at the college level but is very much a nationwide issue as well.