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5 comments | Monday, October 19, 2009

"We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men"-Dr. William Bynum, vice president for Student Services

The controversy continues over the new dress code issued to Morehouse College students by President Robert Franklin and every one seems to have an opinion. The new dress code has been the topic of conversation from college campuses to CNN and was even apart of this morning's Hot Topic's segment on The View.

The policy bans wearing hats in buildings, pajamas in public, do-rags, sagging pants, sunglasses in class and walking barefoot on campus. But the new rule that is getting the most attention is the ban on men wearing garments traditionally reserved for women. Morehouse has implemented a "no cross dressing" rule that has quite a few people up in arms.

This latest controversy comes just 2 weeks after a Morehouse employee was fired for sending a homophobic e-mail blasting the nuptials of a black gay couple from her work e-mail account.

Morehouse also has a reputation for being one of the most homophobic HBCU's despite having it's fair share of gay students. It's also important to note that the campus gay organization Safe Space voted 27 - 3 to support the new dress code policy.

Safe Space president Kevin Webber offered this quote to Inside Higher Ed: "If male students wear feminine clothing what impact does it have on how intelligent they are, their grade point average and how much community service they do? We are focusing too much on the exterior. If you put a clown in a suit, he's still a clown."

Here's a sample of the reactions from folks across the blogosphere:

So here’s the thing though. You might as well have kept that long extensive list to yourself and did this instead:
*Clears throat* *taps mic*
“No gays or thugs allowed. Thank you. Management.”
*drops mic*
-Awesomely Luvvie

So at Morehouse you can shoot a fellow student three times and stay in school, but rockin some 6-inch Louboutins will get u suspended? WTF?
Patrik-Ian Polk via Twitter

The issue of whether Morehouse has the right to impose a dress code is separate and apart from whether or not they should embrace broader definitions of manhood and masculinity. It's a private school and no one is forced to go there. You can choose from thousands of other institutions. However, if you choose to enroll, then you must accept the school's rules. You don't get to negotiate them.

But Morehouse also needs to understand that "men" come in a range of forms, and not some narrowly drawn Black image from a John Wayne picture. They have had and will continue to have male students who defy existing images of masculinity, but who are no less capable of excelling in life and serving as a fine example of the Morehouse graduate.
Bernard Tarver

As an African American man who has deep sense of admiration for Morehouse's legacy (confession: I was very close to choosing Morehouse over NYU for college), I'm disturbed. This "proper attire" policy not only obviously contains an egregiously heterosexist bias, it also contains a deeply problematic class-politics.

Let's be real, Morehouse Pres: are we afraid that if these Morehouse boys wear baggy jeans, they might look a little too much like the local, poor community of the Castleberry section of Atlanta (where Morehouse is located)?
Frank Leon Roberts via The Daily Voice

I think it's a safe assumption to say the "T" is there as lip service based on that vote. Given how there's already a lack of affirmation for LGB at many HBCUs, the trans issue is simply not enough on the radar to put up a fight, and that's sad.
Pam Spaulding responding to the disappointing voted by Morehouse's Safe Space

So where do you stand on this issue? Do you agree with the new dress code or do you believe it's another attempt by Morehouse faculty to push it's openly gay students back into the closet?


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

This is wrong. Creative expression is a part the college experience. This is puzzling Student Affairs folks everywhere

October 19, 2009 4:08 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

As a Morehouse Alum, I'm amazed at the people who have a problem with this issue. Many of these people weighing in do not have the legacy and the history of Morehouse to preserve. The reality is that there is an appropriate dress when you are in class. There are many recruiters from many corporations and the like who visit and tour the campus. You cannot tell me that anyone of these persons will take a man in a dress, pumps, sagging pants, grills, or the like seriously. Morehouse has made some strides in addressing it's homophobic issues. However there are some things that simply do not fall in line with the history and legacy of Morehouse. The expectation is higher, plain and simple. Is Morehouse always on the favorable side of an issue? No! They've made some mistakes and yet they have made some strides. Just as the student who committed the shooting was allowed to stay. It was reprehensible. The firing of the homophobic and rascist employee was the right thing to do. The brother who was beaten with a bat because another student thought he was "cruising" him was handled in the best manner. The Morehouse administration did what was right. Whatever any student wears outside of the class during their personal time is absolutely alright. That is there choice!! There is an expectation that must be upheld at Morehouse. And if you are not willing to uphold that expectation, Morehouse may not be the best place for you. The brothers of Safe Space understand that and also understand how one's appearance affects their presentation. These same people who have such a problem with the dress code are the same ones who would not take any man seriously in an a professional setting with a dress, pumps, sagging pants, and the like. A man wearing women's clothing at an all-male institution does not allow anyone to take them seriously. As I've heard, many students regardless of sexual orientation are not upholding that legacy and history. Some things will have to change and yet, there are some things that must be preserved. Appropriate dress is one of them. Unfortunately if many of the students knew what was appropriate at the appropriate time, there would be no need to enforce a dress code policy. When I was a student, we knew what was appropriate.

October 19, 2009 11:49 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I'm sorry but I'm not feelin this as a "controversy" at all. Although I like fun and bright colors my style of dress is what might be considered as "conservative." So, I'd moreless fit right in at Moorehouse; however, for the more flamboyant individuals...Honey, this is Moorehouse. Save your wannabe runway model poses for the club and get your EDUCATION.
Moorehouse is known for graduating distinguished gentlemen. It should continue it's tradition (as most Ivy league colleges have the same).
If you want to wear Pajamas to class, fall off the ass baggy jeans, and dress like a prostitute then enroll at Texas Southern University...Not Moorehouse.

October 20, 2009 9:57 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I heard just about every argument imaginable over this issue, and what continues to baffle me to this very moment is how some people want to play this “song & dance” over the REAL issue that’s not being discussed behind the dress code.
First, I understand that Morehouse IS a private institution so ultimately THEIR word is law. However, when taking a “common sense” look BEHIND the reasoning for the enactment of the dress code, one can see that this is more than just an attempt to “traditionalize” the Black Male persona within the school.
Sure, Morehouse has a rich history and caters to the advancement of our young Brothas. I also understand that “some” fields of employment are restrictive to a certain type of dress and decorum.
However there ARE many careers and places of employment that includes diversity and non discrimination based on sexual orientation & identity into its code of business conduct. In addition; there is legislation in many states (and pending in others) that prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation and/or identity.
What we’re seeing is a series of events that has placed the school in the limelight on how it treats its gay student body. Several situations have risen recently within the school, so it would stand to reason that this sudden “ban” on certain types of clothing is nothing more than just a quick PR way to suppress any possible gay related incidents in the future. Why some people refuse to understand the true reason in behind the purpose of the ban is truly beyond me.
How ironic is it that After a baseball bat beating, an employee firing over a homophobic email, AND a sudden dress code enactment that all of these events just happen to correlate all together with one common theme.
IF dress was such an issue, WHY wasn’t there a dress code being enforced BEFORE a more visible gay presence showed up at the campus? WHY NOW IS THERE A PROBLEM??? The “thug” persona and look has been around for decades, but Morehouse chose NOW to respond to it? GTFOH! Sure, there is a time and place for dressing to the occasion, however what is the purpose of college if its not for the purpose of educating our young men and helping them find their own niche in society WITH their persona?
The fact that Safe Space voted largely to support the ban does nothing for me. Let’s face it here, what student in his RIGHT MIND would possibly risk his academic future by voting against something that the school is basically FORCING them to accept?
(regardless if they agree with it or not)
Then to top it off, why are students voting in support of something just to turn right around and speak against the very thing they claimed to support? The truth of the matter is we know what’s REALLY going on but we’d rather throw up these smokescreens to cloud the main issue.
Until we can get real and discuss the core of the dress code enactment, we’ll just being talking in circles. It’s good however to see that SOME people can call bulls**** for what it is.

October 20, 2009 10:06 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

as a morehouse grad i find this appauling. there were plenty of times i woke up at 7:45 for an 8am class and went in my pjs to a classroom full of brothas looking like they just got outta bed as well. this had no bearing on my ability to do well academically....which by the way is supposed to be the main focus of higher education.

like one of my morehouse brothers so eloquently stated....a clown in a tuxedo is still a clown.

bottom line...this is a hot ass mess

October 20, 2009 7:14 PM


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