Employee Dress Code a Necessity or Just a Joke

Diane Wheeler
The Paw Print

Why can’t all employees at ASU wear jeans and t-shirts to work? There is a different set of dress code rules for faculty members and for administrative employees, and I think this is vastly inappropriate. A friend of mine, an Administrative Assistant, would like to wear jeans and an ASU tee shirt to work every Friday.

This currently isn’t allowed on campus. It’s an unwritten rule, but if employees violate it, the higher-ups in Richardson Hall notice and raise their eyebrows at this act of unspeakable insubordination. Once in a blue moon, staff members are allowed to wear jeans on Fridays with the stipulation that they pay $5 for a breast cancer pin.

Buying the pin is used as the justification for wearing jeans on this “special day.” This is a very noble cause and all, but it gets extremely expensive for some of the lowest paid employees on campus, the Admin. Assistants. What if the employees would like to give to other charities with their hard-earned money?

I have personally seen the dress code emails, sent to “All Faculty and Staff members.” According to the emails, over summers, the recipients are allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts on Fridays “as deemed appropriate by our supervisors.” Who are these supervisors to tell staff if their outfit is deemed appropriate for the ASU campus? Where would the line be crossed? And honestly, what exactly is the dress code here at ASU? Is there any formal, “in writing” policy on this?

I believe all employees should be allowed to wear casual clothing the same as faculty members, as long as they are clean and void of mean statements. At the moment, we are stuck on the arbitrary “pay $5 this Friday and you can wear jeans.” Woo-hoo! There’ll be dancing in the streets tonight!

This extortion has to stop on our campus! After summers, e-mails are sent out reading something like “Now that the summer semester is over, the jeans and t-shirts days on Fridays are over. Please dress as deemed appropriately by your supervisor.” Then at Christmastime, this memo was sent out. “All Faculty and Staff members can wear jeans on December 7 if they give a donation to the food bank drop off boxes at ASU.”

My friend had to bring a can of garbanzo beans in order to not feel guilty about wearing jeans that Friday. I personally feel the reason for this rule is that there are alumni and/or Board of Trustee contributing big bucks to the university who would be swayed if they saw a bunch of slobs working here—slobs defined as staff members wearing jeans and tee shirts.

But truly, I don’t see the fairness in not allowing all employees to go casual on Fridays. I have spoken with several students, faculty, and staff members who don’t think there’s anything wrong with casual dress for all employees.

One of the unspoken but well-known facts at this college is that faculty members don’t get paid very much, and so they are allowed to wear anything they want, any time they want. If they aren’t allowed to do so, they just might get really mad and teach somewhere else. Couldn’t this reasoning also be true of staff memberz? I’m certainly not advocating our institution of higher learning go to a uniform for all employees working at ASU. I wouldn’t want to see our university become so strict and rigid and uptight.

When questioned about the dress code here at ASU, the faculty members all say the same thing, “I didn’t know there was a dress code!”, or “What dress code?” or “I like things the way they are.” One faculty member said, “If Svaldi wants to wear an engineer cap on Fridays, he can! We’ll let him. Too bad about the secretaries and the jeans thing, though…” I remember the day, many moons ago, when EVERYONE was allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts on Fridays.

On these days, Admin. Assistants could clean their offices from top to bottom, climb ladders to get down old files, clean out the crusty, old refrigerators with all the science experiments in them, etc. Now they are being judged on how “nice” they look. “Gee, Marcy, did you get a new haircut? My, but doesn’t that pink blouse do wonders for your eyes?”

Jeans would be so much more comfortable and utilitarian. A secretary could get a lot more done wearing jeans than she could wearing a skirt. Banks here in Alamosa let their employees wear jeans on Fridays and they have one of the most rigid dress codes in town. So why can’t our ASU customer service representatives? Suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, please don’t hesitate to comment.

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