A UGANDAN university has issued a notice to all its female students, banning them from wearing make-up, mini-skirts, ear-rings, necklaces, bangles, sleeveless, open tops, coloured nail varnish and trousers, among other items.
Local newspaper, the New Vision reported on Thursday that Bugema Univesity issued the notice, in a bid to enforce the ‘moral culture’.
‘No student should come back with the above mentioned next semester. Culprits will face university disciplinary committee for serious action,’ read part of the notice.
The university dean of students, George Mupaghasi told New Vision that they were only enforcing rules that students are usually introduced to during their orientation.
‘We have been taking these students through these rules, especially during their orientations but to our disappointment, some of them end up falling culprits of indecent dressing,’ Mupaghasi said.
Bugema University is affiliated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Uganda, and was founded in 1948 as a theology school for teachers and pastors. It has since expanded to offer bachelors degrees in different disciplines.
Permission before leaving campus
Mupaghasi also explained that the new rules would require students to give the university management notice, before leaving the school campus.
‘We have done this because in case any of our students get a problem along the way, we are held accountable so, we need to protect them as we reserve the positive image of the institution as well,’ he says.
In some universities in Africa, concerns over indecent dressing have triggered dress codes.
School authorities have usually been compelled to adopt dress codes for students or update the current form of clothing due to some cultural and moral values, as well as, academic and safety reasons.
In 2017, Zambeze University in Mozambique, as part of its dress code policy, banned students from wearing sandals, shorts, tight dresses and dreadlocks on campus. There was also controversy when the University of Lagos in Nigeria banned transparent clothing, spaghetti tops, mini-skirts, and tight-fitting clothes in February 2017.
For most universities, the move is to protect mostly female students from harassment and sexual violence.
Critics, however, argue that such dress code policies are a violation of their human rights and freedoms and have wondered the kind of correlation between dress and sexual harassment, or academic performance.
According to the University World News, a research paper from Uganda it cited that dealt with sexual harassment in medical schools recommends that administrators promote decent dressing of female students ‘to avoid luring males into sexual feeling and behaviours. Institutions should design decent uniforms for medical students where need be.’
Yet, most students across many African universities would have none of the above and would continue to raise issues as to why school authorities have made dress codes a major concern.