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October 17th, 2009
01:17 PM ET

Morehouse Dress Code Debate

What college students are wearing on campus is creating quite a buzz at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The historically African-American college is taking a stance and implenting a policy for students to wear more appropriate attire. Do you think colleges should have dress codes? We want to hear your thoughts.
Our T.J. Holmes checked in with our education contributor Dr. Steve Perry for his take on this topic.


soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Bob Welch

    I think there should be a dress code... college students... perhaps high school students need to realize what clothing to wear in order to be taken seriously. The last time I saw a news anchor they weren't wearing pjs and baggy's on camera. And... we take you seriously.

    October 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  2. john

    Love the new code. Support it. Good for Morehouse.

    October 17, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  3. johanna

    There needs to be a dress code. Black children do not know how to dress because of poor parenting. Dressing like they are in prison is not the way they should want to dress. We need to show our children respectable ways to dress.

    October 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  4. M R K Tuck

    As an alum of Morehouse College, I am glad to see the administration finally "legislate" what was understood when I matriculated into the Institution that is "The House".
    The "Mystique" of Morehouse was established when past presidents like Rev. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays insisted that the Men of Morehouse wore attire and conducted themselves in a manner "becoming of a Morehouse Man". There are stories of him sending students back to their dormitory rooms to put on a tie, comb their hair, etc., and represent themselves on campus properly.
    Dr. Perry made a good point: recruiters and potential benefactors visit the campus daily. How does one walk into an "on-the-spot" interview in pajamas, saggin' and raggin', or in heels and a dress? ...a missed opportunity! I had several experiences of being called into meetings, interviews, etc., during my stay at Morehouse, but I wore slacks, a dress shirt and tie most days.
    With all due respect to the current student population, and those to come – now you know: wear a suit and tie, or say "good-bye".

    October 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm |
  5. Kevin Carlos-Valentino

    Thank you for touching on such an appropriate subject. It is sad not only to see the sloven speech patterns of today's society but the casual dress or lazy dress standards that society as a whole has accepted as the norm. Little are people aware of the gradual eroding of society morals and standards of dress. When I was growing up we had a dress code for our houses of worship, dress code for the job, dress codes for school, and so on. Our bed time wear was strictly for that purpose. Plays clothes had a time and place. We did not wear them interchangeably. TODAY WE MUST GET BACK TO BASICS. I applaud Morehouse College for saying Enough, Enough, Enough. We must keep our standards high if our youths are going to continue flourish and excel. T.J. Holmes I applaud you as an example worthy of imitation.

    October 17, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  6. Nick Cummings

    I don't think colleges should have a dress code. To be honest most people in college are adults and should not be limited to what he or she wants to wear. We as college students are going to school to get an education not get critized about what we wear. Now there should be a limit on certain things but not to strict.

    October 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  7. Nick Cummings

    I don’t think colleges should have a dress code. To be honest most people in college are adults and should not be limited to what he or she wants to wear. We as college students are going to school to get an education not get critized about what we wear. Now there should be a limit on certain things but not to strict. we should be able to express ourself in what wear. Dress codes are for high schools.

    October 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm |
  8. Joice Kelley

    As a very wise man once said, "It's time for big boy pants."

    October 17, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  9. Morehouse Mom

    Would you question the dress code if it was Harvard, Yale, Oxford, or Princeton, etc?

    October 17, 2009 at 8:51 pm |
  10. K. Antoinette London

    I am glad that Morehouse College has implemented a dress code. I am an alum of Bennett College for Women. As a freshwoman of an historically black female college, I remembered upperclassmen instructing myself as well as other classmates, about the importance of having dignity for oneself. As "Bennett Belles", we were not allowed to walk around campus in pajamas, hair rollers, or anything that would make us look disheveled. We knew that when we stepped off of campus, we represented not only ourselves, but Bennett College as well. In life we must be cognizant of the importance behind the quote "first impressions, are lasting ones".

    October 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm |
  11. G Slater

    Young man, I would like to be sitting across the desk from you when you come in to interview for a job and you are wearing what you want to wear. I'm sure it won't be baggys, bedtime wear, or baubles. That might be what you want to wear but you dare not wear it because you know you won't be hired. Adhering to the Morehouse dress code is a large part of your education. Your education is far broader than information from books and lectures. It is about the "whole" you and getting Nick ready for that world that will swallow him alive if he shows up in anything other than what it deems appropriate . If you plan to present yourself in a suit at a job interview ,why not practice?

    October 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  12. franco

    Please TJ Holmes, keep your opinion to yourself about Morehouse. Sounds like you're more afraid of cross-dressing people than anything, or is it just deflection?
    And, then we don't need to hear from Steve Perry on everything African American. He continually talked about children in the interview with TJ and although he is a successful principal, he doesn't know everything and his thoughts, ideas and precepts are not always wanted. Frankly, he's being aired too much and it's time to hear some other prominent, less known voices and leave the grade and high school personnal to comment on their own levels, not college. Steve, we don't care if you want your sons to be morehousemen, we want to talk about freedom of expression, identity and much more which is not cloaked in a suit and!

    October 17, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  13. Lauryn McCabe

    The policy is long overdue and oh so very welcomed! Those who have a problem with it, as it is stated by this PRIVATE institution can pack their bags and leave. I am sure there is a college ready and willing to take them and their desire to make their own rules. When they become successful, independent ( this notion of thinking you are an adult when you are without the means to be self-supporting baffles me!) and can found their own college, then they and their administration can open the flood gates to self expression at any cost. At Morehouse, the message is loud and clear and the traditions and legacy are more important than their desires to "DO YOU". Kudos to the Morehouse administration for FINALLY laying down the law!

    October 18, 2009 at 3:42 am |
  14. Bob in Mississippi

    This policy is interesting in some of its stipulations.

    I take issue with the slur at do rags, because I am a 74-year-old
    motocyclist, and wear my do rag as a necessary item of clothing
    mandated by the State of Mississippi, to line a motorcycle helmet.

    I am a late-life motorcyclist on a social security income, because gasoline went to $4 a gallon last year. Did anybody notice?
    My Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle is like a family mule to me, riding it
    to the store, the bank, etc.

    It is also interesting to see confiining formality against men, moving
    in one direction, while universal freedoms continue to be extended to
    women in another.

    The stipulation against wearing items of clothing "normally worn by women," is like passing a stern rule that all male students will go about the campus buck naked. Women, for years, have "normally" worn any item of clothing they please. Anyone enforcing that rule,
    eventually might have to define what clothing "women normally wear."
    Does anybody really want to go there?

    The entire matter reflects the 21st-century "double" and "triple"
    exposures of "contemporary normalcy."

    It makes you glad to be a totally free thinker, not even hampered
    by an associates degree, who has made a living by his own skills
    since he went to work at age 16. (that included 26 years of wearing
    suits and ties for IBM.)

    (I would not be surprised if that school also has a ban against
    motocycles as a means of transportation.)(You know how those
    awful bikers are.)

    Bob in Mississippi

    October 18, 2009 at 5:30 am |
  15. Shag

    They look stupid in doo-rags and sagging pants. I went to school with the original Crips in L.A. and so the advent of this "style." Didn't like it then, don't like it now.

    October 18, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  16. Tyrone

    I totally agree with the policy implemented by Morehouse officials. I also think that this stance should provide a stage for other educational institutions, workforce officials, community leaders and parents to duplicate the efforts to refocus our young men and women on life principals; self values, self respect, self morals and respect for others! We must intervene on the mind sets of our young adults by providing mentorship and guidance through leadership at an early age.

    October 18, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  17. GMHarris

    I could not be more proud to be a Morehouse alumnus and caretaker of the Mystique, than to finally see us take some action for society"s mishandling of the image of Black Men.

    We must arrest the perceptions being encouraged of our young men, to be lazy and careless about their dress.

    Morehouse is a private institution that can set what ever standard it deems appropriate for the upliftment of our young men.

    No other institution in this nation is 100% dedicated to the educational experience of African-American Men and all men of color(every color). Remember, our 20007 valedictorian was a caucasian brotherm whose brother is here. We are concerned about the perceptions of all young Men of all colors.

    97% of our students are in full support. The other 3% are invited to keep their desires to themselves, meet the standard set or better yet, LEAVE. You will be happier elsewhere and so will the College.

    Set the standard or don't have one.

    Concerned by Hopeful now

    October 18, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  18. JG

    I applaud the president of Morehouse College for putting the brakes of this abhorrent form of dress at this fine institution. College students must realize that their actions are not as innocuous as they appear. With the spread of social networking media and its seemingly indefinite archiving, it is not difficult to pull skeletons out of closets. These young men will be entering the workforce soon and not all employers will accept the explanation “I was just a kid expressing myself back then.” Practice what you want to become. Morehouse College has a track record of producing world leaders who exhibit integrity and class. As Americans we do have the right to self expression but not at the expense of others. Obviously, the Morehouse administration had a problem with how some students were presenting themselves, and appropriately decided to take action. Those students who are not in agreement with the school’s dress code have the freedom to pursue study at any one of the other thousands of fine institutions of higher education in this country. Let the administration do what it is hired to do—lead the school!

    October 18, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  19. Patsy Nomvete

    Thank you for highlighting the positive actions by Morehouse College. It is now time to leave the "court jester" look and dress like men with substance.

    October 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  20. Gazinya

    This is what Mr. William Cosby was speaking to. This is what Dr. Perry was speaking to and this is what Rush Limbaugh has been speaking to. If one has a desire to achieve then that desire must produce disiplined action. This action produces a routine and the routine produces a competence and competence produces confidence. Confidence is the result of self-respect. In all areas of individuality, I believe, it is not what someone else thinks of me but what do I think of someone else. If I "feel" dissed then I need to examine myself as to why I 'feel' that way.

    October 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  21. Morehouse Freshman Mom

    I agree with the policy and hope that it will be enforced by the University. I work in Corporate American and I have never seen anyone dressed in do-rags, pj's, or my gay collegues dressed in female clothing. Now Morehouse, it's time to address the safety issue and keep the violence away from our students.

    October 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  22. MorehoueGrad08

    I agree with the inforced dress code. The reason i say inforced is because morehouse has always had a dress code. All of the places that were stated in the policy(Cafeteria,Forums/Events, and Class rooms) have always had a dress code assocaited with them. My freshman class (03) was the first classs in which the administration began to give us more freedom of dress for some of the places above. But that was intented to allow us to be casual to business causal and not to look as if we were thrown off a truck. I beleive classes after us that taken that freedom to the extreme.

    And to bob in Mississippi
    I had a motorcyle for two years on morehouse campus(they are welcomed). The dress code does not talk about not being able to wear what you want on your bike but what you wear once you get off your bike. (you take the rag off and put it in your pocket once off the bike, non-issue).

    And to Franco as a Grad of Morehouse What steve perry said was true. Dress code only enhances a persons image. They didn't ban personality , They ban things that could affect a persons growth of knowledge/experiences. (ex. I have a friends who learned how to tie their first tie on campus- if they never had to wear a tie they would not have that exposure). My school is not about limiting its students but about expanding their horizons,

    October 20, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  23. Delisha

    I love the policy! Why not prep these young men for the real corporate world. I work in a corporate environment Monday -Friday and I dress appropriately, now on the weekend if I choose to let loose so be it. We need to let our men know that children are looking up to them and what they wear reflects on how they live. You can be a ex-gang member and now going to college, but how you going to do it? with style and finesse I hope. Represent my handsome, intelligent, strong black brothers!!!

    October 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  24. Great Decision

    Honestly, I wondered why it has taken this long. I have no problem with freedom of expression, but I truly believe that the legacy and future of Morehouse College, among other HBCU's at the least is a misrepresentation of who black men are and should be.

    I digress.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  25. Class of '99

    The point that people seem to miss is that while time spent in college is a time for reflection and finding one's self in this world, time spent at the college is time to learn a craft and professional norms. The classroom, school events, and other events directly related to the school is not the time for outlandish displays of personal expression. These places are a place of business where business is being conducted.

    This is the same as being in the workforce. I can't showup on Tuesday with shorts and flip-flops or a speedo for that matter. No questions, end of story. I can't show up at the company picnic with a grill in my mouth, or a top hat, or a prom dress. Do that Friday night on your own time. Saturday is your free time. When you own the company, you set your own rules. When you are the apprentice, get back in line and mind your lessons.

    I am a Morehouse Alum. I'm not going to qualify how many gay friends I have or how many guys from the old neighborhood I still talk to. My point to them is the same: be appropriate in the situation you find yourself in.

    October 22, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  26. AmieBeth

    I agree with Dr. Perry. our children need to be children and not make those adult decisions. and I also agree that the students of the university dont just represent themselves, they represent all those who go there now but all those who will be going in the future.
    way to go Dr Perry!

    October 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  27. LinzeKahmil

    No, I do not believe that colelges should ahev a dress code for the simple fact that the classroom should not be considered a fashion show. You should not be foreced everyday to put on a suite and tie for trhe males and a slacks and a dress shirt or a dress suit for the females. It completely does not make any sense to me. I understand where people are coming from when they say that it prepare us for the real world and etc. but there are times where students should have to dress up. Those times should include class presentation, seminars and meetings but not daily. As from myslef I am from Los Angeles where you see most people dresse down in cargos, v-necks baskebtall shorts and comfortable clothing and when I came down to ALabama i was shcoked to see females dressed in heels on a daily basis and it was a complete shock to see males dressed up everyday in slacks and in the latest Polo Shirt. Dress up and having a dress code is implementing a fashion show for students because they want to show off the hottest and new outfit. That is what the weekends are for, you can do all the showing you want to do. I believe the classroom should be a comfortable place. You should be able to wear sweats basketball shorts and other comfortable outfits. I myself do not get dressed on a daily basis. You will find myself in Uggs, leggings, sweats, hoodies, white tee shirts, v-necks. I like to be comfortable in class not trying to walk the runway at the Alabama State Fashion Show!!!!

    October 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm |