Freedom of expression is not limited to clothing

We all remember the dress code from grade school. The straps on your tank tops have to be 3-fingertips width, your shorts have to be as long as your middle finger, and no opened toed sandals. We were expected to dress appropriately for a learning environment. If you didn’t, you would be sent home or given some old gym clothes to wear for the rest of the day.

On some college campuses, there are no rules but loose guidelines. American River College has no dress code policy for students or staff.

American River College’s student rights and responsibilities handbook has a section that details a student’s rights to free expression. “These policies, regulations and the State Education Code prohibit expression which is obscene, libelous or slanderous according to current legal standards, of which incites people so as to create a clear and present danger of unlawful acts.”

Janida Penn, a student at ARC, describes the campus as “free spirited,” because there is no dress code policy for students or staff.

Hampton University is one of the campuses in the United States that has not only listed a dress code on their website, but also what type of clothing should be worn in certain areas. For example, if you are going to the classroom, cafeteria, student center, or university offices, you need to wear neat, modest, or dressy attire. If you were going to a formal, gala, or cabaret, they would prefer you dress prim, semi-stately, and respectively.

Additionally, there was a list of inappropriate attire and appearance wear, including no shorts that reveal buttocks, bare feet, and pants that show underwear of men or women.

Tara Palace, a student at ARC, didn’t know that there wasn’t a dress code policy for the campus. “I feel we are all adults and we should dress anyway that we want to,” Palace says. She states that she hasn’t been distracted in class by the way a student has dressed, but has seen students around campus that could cause a distraction.

Something that Palace believes can be very distracting are low rise jeans. “Girls with their pants low and bend over showing there butt is very nasty.” She also feels that it wouldn’t be profiling if someone was asked to change their attire. “If someone dresses inappropriately then they would be targeted more.”

Expressing your individuality is protected under the free expression clause, but there is a time and place for everything.

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