Part of Florida A&M President James Ammons’ restructuring proposal includes grooming a new generation of “Millennial FAMUans,” who not only graduate on time but are better prepared and more competitive to enter the workforce upon graduation.
Board of Trustees member Torey Alston said he believes being a “Millennial FAMUan” entails more than a high GPA and stellar references.
At a Sept. 30 Board of Trustees meeting, Alston suggested to fellow board members that the implementation of a “higher standard of dress” for students be considered, particularly targeting issues like sagging. Physical appearance, he said, is a vital part of building professionally prepared students.
“We’re talking about the quality of our students in how we present ourselves on and off campus. It was just a friendly idea for the board to consider,” Alston said. “I think if there were dress standards for most colleges and schools, that would help shape what a true Rattler looks like.”
While individual schools and colleges have basic dress codes, Alston said a consistent standard of in the overall professional development of FAMU students.
FAMU’s School of Business and Industry prohibits students wearing clothing shorter than mid-thigh, “do-rags” and revealing piercings and tattoos as part of their stringent dress code.
Student Body President Breyon Love said he supports student expression and individuality, but students need to censor themselves while in an academic setting.
“Of course we have our homecoming parties and things like that on campus, where (revealing clothes) may be acceptable, but not in the classroom,” Love said.
“There’s some things that should be left to the imagination.”
Love agreed that holding students to a “standard of dress” might help the university reach Ammons’ goal of training “Millennial FAMUans” to enter the workforce more competitively.
Dean of Students Henry Kirby said he thinks popular culture has a large influence on the attire of FAMU students, promoting style and sexuality instead of conservatism and professionalism.
While he has seen an improvement in student dress, he said, Kirby said it is still a relevant issue that needs to be addressed.
“At one point I thought it was a trend, and, like with most trends, with a period of time it would phase out,” Kirby said. “But because we’re a public institution, we have to be careful and make sure we don’t tread on students’ freedom of speech and expression.”
Alston said the idea is just in the planning stage, and he has to consult with FAMU’s General Counsel Avery McKnight about what could legally be implemented without violating student rights before moving forward.
Dominique Stallworth from Pensacola, said he doesn’t agree with any kind of standard established for student dress. Self-expression is more important, he said, and limiting sagging may just be the beginning of stifling all self-expression, including piercings and hairstyles.
“I wouldn’t do it (and) would be shocked if something were implemented,” said Stallworth, a 20-year-old construction engineering student.
“It would be like high school all over again.”