Dress for the hood, not the hill

As I make my way past Coleman Library on a breezy day, I hear from my right, “Aye Red!” 

As I slowly turn with a look of displeasure on my face, I see that the young man whose mouth this came from is casually dressed in a white tank top, gray briefs, sagging jeans -with no belt- and Jordan slides on.  As I study this gentleman in front of me, I can’t help but wonder: “How in the world can you dress like this at an institute of higher learning?”   

We have no dress code here at Florida A&M, and we shouldn’t.  We are all adults and masters of our own fate. I think, however, given those responsibilities, these young men should know better.  But does that make them any less deserving of a degree?  Our country’s First Amendment gives us freedom of speech, does freedom of dress not apply?   

Although I am one who is quick to stare these students down, I do not believe that their intelligence is considered to be any lower than the young men who stroll around campus in three-piece suits or those who don Sperrys and khakis on a regular basis.  Being from South Florida, many would think I would be used to this attire since it’s quite common in Fort Lauderdale, but I believed that once I came to college, fads, such as the sagging jeans, tank tops, etc., would be a thing of the past. Apparently, I thought wrong.  

But at a school where excellence and fashion reigns, are we more concerned about the fact that these young men seem like they might not appear capable of a 4.0 GPA? Or is it the fact that their personal style is taken to be seemingly offensive on a campus full of scholars who look like they just stepped out of Jet magazine?

At the end of the day, many of these “thugged out” young men are still on track and have not let their personal attire hinder their academic excellence, so why are we so bothered by it?