OAU Clears the Air on Trending Dress Code Circular
In a bid to address recent concerns over a circulating dress code directive allegedly targeting students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, the university’s management has offered a clarification. Abiodun Olarewaju, the university’s Public Relations Officer, conveyed in a Monday interview with our correspondent that the widely circulated circular did not originate from the university’s administration.While Olarewaju acknowledged that the administration was indeed contemplating such a policy, he emphasized their intention to proceed judiciously and respect students’ sensibilities.The controversial circular that came to light on Sunday had outlined penalties, including a one-semester rustication, for students found in violation of stipulated codes of conduct. These infractions encompassed wearing attire categorized as “sexually provocative,” including backless and transparent garments, as well as “off-shoulder clothes” and “bomb shorts.” Moreover, the circular highlighted inappropriate behaviors like “unwelcome touching, kissing, and hugging of the opposite sex” as grounds for potential two-semester rustication.Male students were further advised against activities such as “Hair plaiting or weaving.” However, Olarewaju firmly stated, “It (the circular) is not from the university administration. Although we’re working on our own, I think those who brought that out are just being mischievous. Maybe they’re trying to gauge the minds of the people and the students, but definitely, this is a university and we cannot accept any kind of dress, we have decency.”In affirming their intention to explore a dress code policy, the university’s PRO reiterated, “Of course, we’re on that but we want to be sure we are not stepping on toes.”The purported move has provoked discontent among students and alumni since Sunday. A gathering on Sunday night provided a platform for many to voice their opposition to the proposed dress code.Even the Students’ Union leadership took a stand against the administration’s proposal, asserting that such regulations infringe upon students’ rights to freedom of expression. The union’s statement, jointly signed by the President, Secretary-General, and the PRO, Abbas Ojo, Opeyemi Akinboni, and Omisore Elijah, respectively, condemned the idea of uniforms on campus, deeming it outdated and incongruent with a conducive learning environment.The Secretary-General, Akinboni, confirmed in an interview on Monday that the union had indeed received a memo from the university. Dated August 8, 2023, the memo titled “Review of the Code of Conduct for the University Community and Other Policies in the University” was addressed to the students’ union and the staff unions. It urged these groups to provide feedback to the Directorate of Legal Services of the university.