College is an exciting time when students venture out and find their freedom. Gone are curfews and nagging parents to make them do their homework or make their bed. However, what about how to dress? The University of West Alabama is one of the few public universities in Alabama that enforces a dress code.

“The policy originated as a guide for students, particularly on career days, and that’s what it is: it’s a guide,” said Danny Buckalew, vice president of student affairs. Prior to the establishment of the dress code, faculty and staff began to express a concern of what students were wearing to class, especially the “just rolled out of bed” attire, Buckalew said.

Young Hall Cafeteria is one of the locations where the dress code receives the most controversy. “I’ve been kicked out of the cafeteria three times already for wearing the same clothes I’ve been wearing for the past three years here, and I think it is ridiculous,” said Lindsey Moroski, one of many students who did not know about the policy.

“From what I understand, people can wear spandex shorts and have their stomachs out, but seeing shoulders is unacceptable? This dress code just doesn’t make sense,” the senior Exercise Science major said.

“One of the steps that UWA can take to better enforce the policy is to make it known by all faculty and staff,” stated Ketia Shumaker, an associate professor of biology.

“One of the reasons why I enforce the dress code is so the students will know the classroom setting is preparing them for the future,” said Shumaker, who provides a copy of the policy in all of her course syllabi. “What you wear makes a statement about you. You don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.”

Since the code was created, Buckalew said the goal of it has always been to be a guide for students. “We want to do this in a positive manner, not a forceful manner,” he said.

When asked about the enforcement of the dress code, Buckalew said there are currently designated staff members that speak to freshmen in UWA 101 classes to make the students aware of the policy. He also encourages students to become familiar with the student handbook, the “Tiger Paw,” so they can be mindful of all the policies on campus.

Tyler Moore, a junior majoring in biology, said he knew UWA had a dress code, but he did not agree with it.

“I think people should be able to wear whatever they want to wear,” Moore said. “They should have enough sense not to wear anything inappropriate.”

Other students disagree and believe a dress code is necessary. “The reason behind a dress code is to practice professionalism,” said John Paul Hyatt, a junior accounting major.

The dress code can be found under Administrative Policies in the “Tiger Paw” handbook on the UWA website.

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