Queen’s University Belfast published an online guide called “Style tips for graduation week: Wear it well”. While the guide has now been removed from the University’s website, it was the source of a social media avalanche calling out sexist language and what they say is University’s way to meddle in personal issues such as clothing preferences and graduation outfits.
The “guide” was written by a former student, Thom Dickerson, and included lines such as “Short skirts and cleavage on show are totally out of the question. Think Grace Kelly, not Kim Kardashian”. He urged female students not to think about their graduation as another “night out” and to dress formally for the occasion. The comments, which were made in an informal and friendly fashion, hit the nerve of a student community who is tired of ambivalent and disproportionate gender-related “advice”, which usually tends to suggest a more discrete attire.
Students, both male and female, took a stand against the publication, and they were backed by their faculty. Alex Schwartz, a lecturer at the institution, took to Twiter to express his support to the protests saying “‘What is wrong with QUB’s PR people? Honestly. I’m proud to see our students speak out against this sexist nonsense.’ There has not been an official response from the university to his comments, but the fact that the publication in question has now been removed hints that they got the message and are looking to clear their public image.
With an increase of social media commenters calling out sexist policies in schools and universities, it is comes as no surprise that a community of vocal supporters of women’s right to choose their own clothing and advocating for positive body image have strongly criticized the online publication. The university has since stated that their site is currently updated and includes stories about student’s achievements and other community related news, but has not issued a comment about the protests.