I posted this photo in my social media accounts as a response to a question of a new friend who expressed her amazement that as a lecturer, I’m allowed to wear casual t-shirts and jeans as my daily outfit in my campus. That also applies to my students. As you can see from the photo, our fashion choice is totally varied, from very laid back sandals to me wearing boots, from a very casual t-shirt to a long sleeve checkered shirt. And yes, it’s totally acceptable in my campus.
Coming from a perspective of Indonesia, where campus is considered as a formal context, what my students wear will certainly raise some eyebrows in other campuses in Indonesia. Some campuses even set a policy of “appropriate” campus dress code (for example, see these posts on the dress code policy in Cendrawasih University, Jayapura, Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta). T-shirts, shorts, and sandals generally are banned during classes. Some goes even sexist by making female students wearing skirts only in campus, or regulating how female students arrange their hairdo.
I guess this is what constitutes as the different campus culture. My campus is totally relaxed. Yes, in some faculties dress code does exist (like in Economic and Business Faculty, students are not allowed to wear t-shirts, but that only applies in their own building, and not whole campus in general). The main administration building at one point did have a banner, forbidding students to wear shorts and sandals within the building. But that sign has disappeared like four or five years ago. Even the rector and his deputies are dressed quite casually. Just like in these two photos. Both photos are taken from the official website of the university.
The left photo is during a visit from Bina Nusantara University. See the guy in jeans? That’s Neil Rupidara, the deputy rector of research and community service (did you notice that he’s in pony tail too? ha!). The lady at the center in white blouse is Martha Nandari, the deputy rector of internationalization and relations. Obviously her dress is quite casual too.
The photo on the right is during the opening ceremony of PIBBI program and the rector, John Titaley, is the guy at the center in brown batik. His shoes are, well, the one that Jesuit priests usually wear with open toes. I often spot him walking to campus from his house, carrying a tote bag on his shoulder!
In short, every faculty in my campus has its own culture of dressing, but not to the level of very strict and illogical.
I guess the point is, my campus values everyone as a human being with qualities and characteristics, regardless of their physical appearance or background. A lecturer is like-able, not because of his/her status as a lecturer, but on the quality of his/her teaching and how s/he communicates and socializes with others, no matter how quirky his/her look is (one of my colleagues dyed his hair blonde, something that even us commented, but the comments were generally positive, like he’s cool and fashionable). A student is evaluated based on his/her performance in learning and connecting to others. Even if the student is wearing very syar’i hijab (meaning completely covering and not revealing any curves at all) and thus very polite, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s perceived as a nice friend if she’s behaving so badly toward others (and just a side comment, yes, my university is Christian-affiliated, but wearing hijab is totally alright, and a common sight). We’re so used of different types of people with various fashion preference and various ethnic-group-related physical appearance, that nothing really surprises us in campus (errr, hot pants in campus? Yeah, sure, if the one who wears it knows that her legs are skinny beautiful. If not, it’s quite an eye sore, but we won’t complain.).
Who you are as a human being and in relation to others is way more important than how you dress or how you look. That’s how we think. That’s how we act. That’s our culture.
What’s the culture of your campus?