Editor's note: This article is a part of a head-to-head. Read the other article here.
Style is a means of expression. Therefore, the way we choose to dress is an extension of our freedom of speech. Should LSU attempt to implement a dress code, they would be impeding students’ First Amendment rights.
The University is a public institution, and the First Amendment prohibits any government body from suppressing free speech.
The “infamous shirtless guy” might have been making a statement about radical personal freedom and not subscribing to societal standards. A young man in one of my classes chooses to wear nail polish. I, oftentimes, wear tie dye and shirts I’ve acquired over my years of festival and concert ventures. We’re expressing ourselves.
Aside from obvious issues of censorship, some students can’t afford the professional attire that would likely be required of a university-mandated dress code. Many University students can barely afford the ridiculously overpriced textbooks we have to buy at the beginning of the semester.
What makes anyone think that students would be eager to spend hundreds of dollars on business clothing? Many underclassmen might not even enter the professional field when they decide that college isn’t for them. Nothing is wrong with making the personal decision to cease one’s college education.
Of course, as students of a University as prestigious as ours, we should try to hold ourselves to a high standard of how we present ourselves around campus. However, that standard should not be enforced by the University because it could easily be interpreted as an attempt to suppress freedom of expression.
Furthermore, the casual dress we typically see on campus might be a result of students that are already overworked. They’re already held to a high standard by their professors, their parents and themselves to excel in their coursework. High levels of stress bring a plethora of negative mental, even physical, effects. Why should the University implement a measure that would only add to those stress levels?
Some graduate students are required to dress in business casual attire. This makes sense because those students are obviously pursuing a more esteemed career and will be expected to exhibit the qualities of utmost professionalism.
Many undergraduate students are still unsure of how far they want to take their career of interest. Some undergraduate students might be preparing for a profession that doesn’t discriminate against casual attire.
A University-sanctioned dress code would intrude on freedom of expression and the First Amendment rights of students. It would add to the stress levels of already overworked students. Some students might not even be able to afford nicer, dressier clothing on top of the cost of tuition, fees, housing and books. Lastly, for many students, a dress code won't help them advance their career goals.
James Smith is a 21-year-old mass communication senior from Grand Coteau, Louisiana.