We don’t need no  dress code, + (surprisingly) sane recommendations from the #6Q Survey
Apprentice Lawyer

We don’t need no dress code, + (surprisingly) sane recommendations from the #6Q Survey

Anuj Agrawal

The recent edition of the #6Question Survey was taken by around two hundred and fifty law students and law graduates. Quizzed about the need for a dress code in law colleges, sexist comments, and more, this is what they had to say.

In all, two hundred and fifty-eight people took part in the survey, of which one hundred and sixty were current students of law. Another ninety were law graduates, while the remaining were neither law students nor law graduates.

1. Have you ever faced adverse/sexist comments on your attire from faculty?

Close to one in four law students have had to face comments on their attire from faculty members. This is certainly something that deserves a closer examination. How often does sexism crop up in the Indian law school? Are incidents involving faculty taken up either by the student body or the administration?

2. Have you ever faced adverse/sexist comments on your attire from your peers?

The percentage is slightly lower when it comes to comments from their peers. Nonetheless, just like the numbers with respect to faculty, this is an aspect that ought to be examined in greater detail.

3. Do you think shorts are appropriate attire for a classroom?

Close to a quarter of the respondents thought that shorts are not the appropriate attire for a classroom. Significantly, nearly 37% thought that one’s attire, shorts or otherwise, was not where the focus should have been.

4. Do you think there should be a dress code in law schools?

Just over one-fifth of the respondents felt that there was a need to have a dress code in law schools.

Ideally, this is something the Bar Council of India should take cognisance of; this circular [jpg] suggests that colleges ought to consider introducing uniforms. Scheduled to have a meeting on this soon, the BCI may come out with a clearer stance.

To be fair though, the BCI is not the only one to do so. A number of law schools prescribe uniforms.

5. Any ideas on how this can be resolved?

Eighty-five people filled in this question. Here are a few of the comments we received:

“When a professional dress code exists for advocates practicing in courts, then why should anyone have a problem with having a dress code in law school campus. Also, lawyers who join corporate law firms and companies, most of such organizations have a dress code (not uniform based), too.”

“I guess the kind of language employed by the esteemed faculty member was not appropriate but I still think that in a classroom some sort of decency can be maintained. The attire has to be in consonance with the kind of social setup we have in India.”

“I think professor was right in NLS incident. There should be decency in classroom and decorum should be maintained.”

“The freedom from white and black is to be given unless the student is in final year and interning or practising. He is going to be in that for rest of his life, let him be at ease in college atleast. What is the practice in foreign? I do not think they have any codes. It is actually curbing the freedom in a institution where it must be preached. In profession dress code is ok but for studies it serves no practical purpose unlike in schools.”

“Dress code should be only when there are events organised in the college. For rest of the days, just because its law faculty students should not be deprived of wearing clothes they are comfortable in.”

“As a law student i personally believe that “Wrong is wrong” and it should not be tolerated but in our country even though you are a nice person but every one judge you on the basis of your dress so we need to change this perception rather than imposing dress code to hide someone mistake.”

“There should be a balance between what we consider ‘progressive thinking’ and maintaining the discipline. Discipline includes being properly dressed for the occasion, and shorts are not the dress for the occasion. A girl in shorts in the classroom has in no way, any kind of flaw in her character, but she isn’t dressed in a disciplined way. Lastly, we should distinguish efforts to maintain discipline from sexist remarks, though what happened at NLSIU was wrong as the girls character was allegedly questioned.”

“Dress can never change the sexist attitudes. It is the mindset which needs to be changed. By keeping a dress code in law colleges, we will enforce the idea of what is right to wear and what is not. A person should have a right to choice when it comes to dressing. If society needs to judge a girl, then judge her by her profession and nature not by the attire. Dress code is not a solution. Changing mentality among faculty member is the right solution.”

“People should dress according to situations. No one will go clubbing with salwar kameez on, it’s just not the right dress for the right place. That said but a professor or anyone else has jo right to slut shame or pass any sexist remark whatsoever.”

“The freedom from white and black is to be given unless the student is in final year and interning or practising. He is going to be in that for rest of his life, let him be at ease in college atleast. What is the practice in foreign? I do not think they have any codes. It is actually curbing the freedom in a institution where it must be preached. In profession dress code is ok but for studies it serves no practical purpose unlike in schools.”

“Once again, the focus is wrong. The focus should not be on ‘shorts’ that women or men wear to class. Rather, the focus should be on making college campuses inclusive and equal and rid them of sexism. You cannot have a progressive law school discussing profound ideas such as gender equality and LGBTI rights and have women face blatant sexism from professors and students alike. The emphasis should not be on imposing a sexist dress code but on building inclusive law school campuses where attention is paid to a woman’s merit and not on her attire.”

The complete list of comments is in the document below.

Data_Q6_160413.pdf
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(Image source)

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