Do clothes make the Morehouse man? No more pumps on campus.

A men’s clothing store used to advertise using the slogan that the “suit makes the man.”

Apparently, that thinking shaped the new dress code policy for Morehouse men.

Is there something about a well dressed man? Morehouse thinks so. In April, then Morehouse senior Tristan Allen, (left) an economics major from Pretoria, South Africa, greeted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, on campus to deliver a lecture. Kimberly Smith / ksmith@ajc.com

Is there something about a well dressed man? Morehouse thinks so. In April, then Morehouse senior Tristan Allen, (left) an economics major from Pretoria, South Africa, greeted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, on campus to deliver a lecture. AJC Photo/Kim Smith

The prestigious historically black men’s college has a new, more rigid dress code, outlined in this AJC story. In explaining it, Dr. William Bynum, vice president of the Office of Student Services, said,

“We expect our young men to be Renaissance men. When people go about campus we want them to represent the college in an appropriate manner.”

“This is necessary, this is needed according to the students,” he said. “We know the challenges that young African-American men face. We know that how a student dresses has nothing to do with what is in their head, but first impressions mean everything.”

Among the expectations in the policy:

* no caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues

* no sunglasses worn in class or at formal programs

* no jeans at major programs, as well as no sagging pants on campus

* no clothing with derogatory or lewd messages either in words or pictures

* no wearing of clothing usually worn by women (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events.

Violators face academic suspension. The story says most students are supportive and cites a student leader:

Cameron Thomas-Shah, the student government co-chief of staff, is one of them. While working as a resident’s assistant (RA) he said he noticed freshmen dressed in a way that was unflattering to Morehouse.

“The image of a strong black man needs to be upheld,” he said. “And if anyone sees this policy as something that is restrictive then maybe Morehouse is not the place for you.”

I thought the ban on jeans would be the most unpopular aspect of the policy, but the news story says it’s the restriction on women’s clothing that has many students up in arms.

I am not a fan of dress codes only because there doesn’t seem to be any link to improved academics. However, I have no doubt that a campus – or a workplace — looks more professional when kids dress up a bit.

I just wonder about the enforcement aspects of telling 20-year-olds how to dress.

What do you think?

133 comments Add your comment

TW

October 16th, 2009
9:42 am

Yes, ‘prestige’ is a good thing. I applaud their efforts.

JR

October 16th, 2009
10:15 am

I am a student. I am 21 years old. I don’t need anyone to tell me what I can and cannot put on my back when i wake up in the morning. I think the policy is laughable and I am eager to see if and how it will be enforced

Parent

October 16th, 2009
10:22 am

Good for Morehouse. If you don’t like it don’t go there.

jim d

October 16th, 2009
10:22 am

Being a private institution they have been able to remain one of the few single gender schools in the country, and a damn good one at that.

JR, I suspect they can set and enforce any dress code they wish. I also suspect the policy will be well enforced.

dd

October 16th, 2009
10:27 am

If you don’t want to follow the rules of Morehouse go somewhere else. Why does the entire school need to change for one or two indivuals? That is what is wrong with our nation we are no longer a majority rule. We now have to just do what the whinny ones want.

Parent

October 16th, 2009
10:51 am

I am tired of teenagers (kids) wanting to do whatever they want and wear whatever they want in the name of freedom. “I need to express myself”. They don’t even know who they are yet. We need more rules not less for teenagers. If more adults would step up and say you don’t need this cell phone, or you can not dress like that, or you need to ……….. We are the adults and we let this generation get away from us.

Johnny Too Good

October 16th, 2009
10:52 am

Amen.
What kinda man wears women’s clothes? Is that professional? Is it cool? Prestigous? Appealing?
and FYI……. Morehouse is a private school, meaning they can make their own rules………….
If you don’t like it, apply elsewhere

Ernest

October 16th, 2009
11:00 am

This seems to be a topic in which most of us agree. If a student ‘chooses’ to apply to and attend Morehouse, they must follow the rules set forth. You don’t like the rules, don’t go there.

From a legal standpoint, would they need to ‘grandfather’ students that are current attendees or does this being a private school allow them to make this change without consideration?

Morehouse Alum

October 16th, 2009
11:04 am

The problem is that sagging jeans, do-rags, and yes, men wearing high heels and pumps has gotten out of hand on campus. It disappoints alumni such as myself walking through campus thinking I’m at a taping of America’s Next Top Model or something. We wore jeans and tees in my day in the late 90s, but those attending the school today have taken it to a new level. The saggy jeans were becoming as much a problem, but high heels man? “Come on, son!”

Its a time and a place for everything, and if thats your choice fine, but as someone who gives faithfully to the school and to scholarships of students attending now, I don’t want to see that. You have the choice to wear what you want. Clark is right around the corner. Take it there. I’m making an investment in the institution that helped me get where I am today (Dean Hudson), quit devaluing my investment.

jim d

October 16th, 2009
11:24 am

Ernest,

They are free to so as they wish.

AO

October 16th, 2009
11:27 am

I think the dress code is a great idea. As a former student of the Atlanta University Center, I have seen the quality of the Morehouse man decline in the past years. I think this dress code will ensure that Morehouse will keep its prestigious name and reputation. Similar to what others have said, if someone has an issue with the policy, they should take their time and money elsewhere.

jim d

October 16th, 2009
11:35 am

As I’ve already stated —”this is a private school”. I would like to point out though that there are publicly funded colleges that not only dictate what clothing will be worn but when it will be worn both on and off campus.

CB

October 16th, 2009
11:43 am

Hold up, am I reading this right?” but the news story says it’s the restriction on women’s clothing that has many students up in arms.” What does it say about an all male college when THAT’S the big issue? If it’s that many so called MALES attending the college that don’t want to be restricted from wearing female clothing, perhaps it’s not the school for me or my friends. I’m just saying LoL. something needs to be clarified about that statement in a hurry.

Fulton Teacher

October 16th, 2009
11:43 am

Note to JR and other students: If you think it is appropriate to wear head gear indoors or jeans to a formal gathering, then you do, indeed, need someone telling you what to wear.

Stop whining about a few rules (especially ones that make sense). Express yourself somewhere else. It’s not like a dress code at your future job will be LESS restrictive.

Maureen Downey

October 16th, 2009
11:50 am

CB. See the post below from Morehouse alum who wrote, “The problem is that sagging jeans, do-rags, and yes, men wearing high heels and pumps has gotten out of hand on campus.”

Johnny Too Good

October 16th, 2009
12:35 pm

I can completely understand the administration’s point of view, the students are an image and representation of the institution

Another Morehouse Alum

October 16th, 2009
12:38 pm

My response to the dress code policy: THANK YOU, GOD. I graduated from Morehouse in the early 1990’s. Morehouse had reasonable rules governing civility and student conduct in those days, but a dress code wasn’t needed because most students governed themselves with a certain sense of appropriateness. Having recently returned to the campus to engage students during orientation week, I can tell you I was surprised and disturbed with the appearance of some students. While the college has always emphasized that a Morehouse Man should always carry himself in a respectful manner, it was clear to myself and my fellow alumni that Morehouse was changing in ways that were unbecoming to its reputation and traditions. Morehouse is a symbol of African American male scholarship and leadership. Anything that diminishes that reputation – be it sagging pants, do-rags, or the wearing of womens clothing – should not be tolerated on campus, at campus events, or during any school sponsored activities. Any man that wishes to attend Morehouse who will not represent himself in such a manner that builds upon the positive reputation and traditions of Morehouse College should find a college environment more hospitable to their lifestyle or be wiling to observe the policies and follow the rules of the private institution that has granted them the opportunity (not the right) to attend. You are free to sag your pants, wear high heels, attend classes in do-rags, wear pajamas to class, and to wear a halter top to the football game at someone else’s college or event, not at Morehouse College. Kudos to the Morehouse administration for finally taking a stand, establishing standards, and holding people accountable in spite of our politically correct environment.

C Grievs 2010

October 16th, 2009
12:42 pm

As a current student at Morehouse College, I applaud Morehouse for instituting this new dress code. No one is saying that a suit is indicative of success. However, I was always taught that your first impression is non-verbal. This new Renaissance movement that Franklin is seeking, has been done so as to revitalize the image of the institution., there i no school uniform. Its a dress code just like any other you will encounter once entering into the professional world. Class of 2010

Lynn

October 16th, 2009
12:43 pm

Ok a Private Institution can enforce a dress code. What’s wrong with dressing for success? Morehouse Men as the World has always known sets the standard for Successful Black Men. Wearing pants sagging, hats in Buildings was never exceptable in the Academic world. Do you all think students at Harvard attend functions without their Jackets or wear sagging jeans to events sponsored by Harvard. You already know the answer. Im glad Morehouse is Standing up. Stand for something or Fall for anything!!

miked

October 16th, 2009
12:45 pm

Morehouse is an all male institution. This means only men attend this school.

Men that dress up as women at an all male school are violating the very nature of this all male concept. Women aren’t allowed at the institute but men pretending to be women are? By the very concept of being all male, if dressing up like a woman is permitted, then you might as well let women that dress like men enroll as well. That in turn pretty much makes the school co-ed, not gender exclusive.

People that are trans-gender shouldn’t apply to an all-male institution. Thats just a curtsying around one of the key tenets which is just disrespectful.

Maureen Downey

October 16th, 2009
12:49 pm

Having attended one Harvard reunion with my alum husband, I don’t think there is any dress code there and students have absolute freedom in what they wear and they act on that freedom. After visiting colleges with my two oldest, I don’t think many of the elite schools impose any real dress rules on their students. Nor do I think students would stand for it at many of those schools.
Maureen

jim d

October 16th, 2009
12:53 pm

VMI—The ciitadel are two that come quickly to mind. I don’t think I’d consider either one shabby. They are both pretty elite

Maureen Downey

October 16th, 2009
12:56 pm

Jim d, OK, I didn’t count military colleges. And I would add all the academies to your list.
Maureen

Another Morehouse Alum

October 16th, 2009
1:01 pm

The comparison between dress codes or lack of dress codes at other schools is irrelevant. Morehouse has traditions and a historical legacy of producing African American male leaders and scholars. Part of that tradition includes “The Mystique” which is a combination of expectations that every Morehouse Man should aspire to achieve. The Mystique is part of the basic construct of Morehouse and is inseparable from Morehouse’s mission and vision. In a sense, it is what separates a man from a “Morehouse Man”. If you don’t want it or believe in it, you should not go to Morehouse in the first place.

jim d

October 16th, 2009
1:13 pm

AMA,

I agree, Morehouse is in the business of developing principled leaders. That being said, they should look and act the part.

neo

October 16th, 2009
1:16 pm

I don’t go to morehouse but I been there…and I believe that there are extremes in everything…..in every generation…you get tired of bieng called “the lost genaration” and so forth evertime style changes….it will pass with time…I don’t know how you enforce a dress code….I guess that there will be less people at these events….its funny how people always think that we as young people will be dumb enough to show up to jobs like we dress in our every day life…and need to be shown how to dress next I guess hair styles like dreads and braids will be looked down on…

Parent

October 16th, 2009
1:19 pm

I couldn’t agree more. You can tell by the student and alum responses to this blog that they hold themselves to a higher standard.

Tonya

October 16th, 2009
1:58 pm

Neo:

You may not, but as someone who has worked in HR I assure you that many of your peers are ‘dumb enough’ to not know how to dress for an interview or employment. Many don’t even understand the importance of the proper attire to complete a job application. I congratulate Morehouse for the higher standards it is setting for its students, because it makes them come to grips with the higher bar that is already set for them in the big wide world.

Maureen, the most successful of K-12 schools in this country are seem to be private ones who have a standard of dress and conduct for their students that is actively enforced. Trust me when i say that isn’t a coincidence.

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Oddie Richard

October 16th, 2009
2:16 pm

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for your Leadership training of our young Men. It is about time that Morehouse re-establish its Standards and regain its Leadership position. Again, I can say that I am PROUD of our HBCU Institutions.

amberjen

October 16th, 2009
2:40 pm

I am so glad to hear Morehouse has enforced a dress code. Unfortunately, alot of our young folks have lost their way in the name of being different. They don’t understand that being different does not always make you employable and it seems that some parents are failing in teaching there kids principles that will benefit them later, such as dressing appropriately for the occassion. I also work in HR and you can bet that you would not get hired if you came in the office wearing dreads, cornrows and males wearing high heel shoes. There is a time and place for everything, black folks get with the program or you will be part of the problem. Most of us are not the ones employing our own, first impression is the last impression.

They Want Pretension

October 16th, 2009
2:50 pm

What a shame this venerable institution can no longer handle the clothing prerogatives of the modern student. Morehouse isn’t alone as some HBCU’s have even banned braids and dreads. That’s right, we’re not talking men in pumps, but the actually forbidding of traditional African hairstyles!

If these students take this code then they are wimps, there should be protests and vociferous one at that. All of you faux lawyers out there with this “it’s a private institution” as an excuse are not standing on solid legal grounds.

What this issue is about is not some phony “prestige” issue, it is about freedom of speech and how far an institution may infringe upon that right. Unless the institution can show that the prohibited clothing was disruptive of the learning process, then I do not believe the banning is constitutional.

By the way, this “private institution”, depends on public money. Sure there are many well to do alumni, and Oprah seems to love the place, but the fact of the matter is if the access to public student loans and grant money were cut off, the school would be in big trouble and could not survive,at least not as it does today.

I also believe there is a hint of that notorious Morehouse homphobia in this policy too with the reference to “pumps”. Seems to me some of the students are challenging traditional notions of gender and sexuality. There are bisexuals and homosexuals a plenty at Morehouse, and that has always been the case. Make an institution all male and there you will find the non heterosexual. The local gay bars, gay gathering places, online forums are all full of “Morehouse Men” students and graduates alike. The old saying that,” Morehouse takes your money and makes you funny” did not arise out of thin air.

What do you want to bet that it will be one of these students, in “pumps” that successfully challenges this “dress code”?

If part of the goal of the policy is to help mold leaders, then this policy is a direct contradiction to that idea. By making the students into little corporate replicas and teaching them to be docile in the face of a challenge from power, the institution is not acting in the student’s best interests. One can dress well and be of poor character, look no further than Wall Street for an example.

Shame on Morehouse for this policy. Shame on the SGA for lack of spine. Shame on any student who does not see, and thus act upon the noxiousness of this policy. It is really all about pretense.

NA

October 16th, 2009
2:53 pm

@ neo—There are schools that do not allow dreads and braids. It is either Hampton or Howard’s Business program.

Tyrell

October 16th, 2009
2:57 pm

I am floored because I am paying over $8,000 a semester and someone wants to dictate what I wear. Times have changed and each generation has their season, this is ours. There are more other concerns to worry about than dress the crime. The way I dress those not impede upon my learning. We are grown individuals! Let me graduate first before you start talking about a job interview!

spunkygirl

October 16th, 2009
3:12 pm

“Back in the day” all HBCU’s had dress codes! Social graces were a requirement as was regular chapel attendance….. BRAVO to Morehouse. If a Morehouse “man” wants to wear halter tops and high heels, perhaps he should enroll in another college. Why enroll at Morehouse? 1) high quality education 2) “The Morehouse Mystic 3) gay and download brothers in abundance…… and the answer is (drum roll) ALL OF THE ABOVE!!

VLG

October 16th, 2009
3:20 pm

MOREHOUSE STUDENTS DEMAND COLLEGE DIVEST FROM IRAN AND SUDAN
(Atlanta, GA) October 8, 2009 – Leaders of Morehouse College’s Student Government Association (SGA) have formally requested of President Robert Franklin that their historic institution withdraw its endowment from companies currently doing business in Iran and Sudan. These student leaders have cited Morehouse’s long-standing traditions of moral leadership and the threats to peace and security posed by Iran and Sudan as the impetus behind their initiative. The name given to their effort is the Vanguard Divestment Initiative (VDI).
Morehouse SGA President Adam McFarland said, “President Franklin always talks about Morehouse Men being ‘renaissance men’ who are socially conscious. Therefore, we as students at Morehouse can’t become leaders on the global scene if we do not become aware and take meaningful action on these types of issues.”
The letter delivered to Morehouse President Robert Franklin was signed by the entire Executive Board of the SGA calls for a targeted divestment from any holdings the school may have in the energy sectors of the Iranian and Sudanese economies. These areas are the primary focus because Iran’s nuclear program and Sudan’s genocidal campaign are funded by the profits from these revenue streams. A passage from the letter reads:
This collective of student leaders supports divestment as the most effective way to safeguard against a nuclear armed Iran and to impede the resources of the Sudanese militia. A joint Sudanese and Iranian divestment campaign at Morehouse will be the preface to a new story about this generation’s moral leadership. Such an initiative is the first of its kind, and Morehouse will once again be at the forefront of change, directly combating stereotypes of apathy and inaction unfairly associated with young African-Americans.
Richard Fulton, another student signatory to the letter, wrote an editorial in the campus newspaper reiterating the call for divestment. Fulton declared, “The VDI was developed in order for the voices and concerns of Morehouse students to have real resonance in the various human rights and national security debates of our time. The genocide in Sudan is evil and Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons poses an immediate threat to global security. World war is a very real possibility if the Iranian regime does not bow to the weight of international condemnation of its rhetoric and actions. As global citizens, these issues merit our highest concern and effort.”

While many in the Morehouse community were initially unaware of these potential investments, one student group was responsible for bringing this issue to the attention of Morehouse students and administration. That organization is Vanguard Leadership Group (VLG). VLG is an honor society and leadership development academy for top students at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. They have successfully engineered the passage of similar Iranian/Sudanese divestment efforts in the city of Atlanta, DeKalb County and they also have one pending before the Fulton County Commission. Vanguard Leadership Group was founded by Darius Jones.
Notable student signatories to the document are:
Adam McFarland, SGA President; Melvin Colbert, SGA Vice President; Justin Williams, SGA Executive Director; Garrett Auzene, SGA Senior Board Trustee; Brennan Hawkins, SGA Junior Board Trustee; Tyren Holmes, SGA Chief Justice; Adam Moore, SGA Attorney General; Armaad Morman, SGA Treasurer; Arrington Crawford, SGA Corresponding Secretary; Michael Hayes, President of Vanguard Leadership Group and Chantel Morant, Vice President of Vanguard Leadership Group

# # #

Tonya

October 16th, 2009
3:21 pm

NA:
Hampton…my first choice of HBCUs (and I didn’t even end up going there)!

Tyrell: part of a GOOD university’s mission is to prepare you for the working world. Having a standard of dress is a part of that. Morehouse has a reputation to uphold, so if their rules are not agreeable to you feel free to transfer elsewhere. The money they get from donors and alumni is a more pressing issue than your tuition.

They want pretension: The business world is mostly pretension. The rules of the game are already set, and if you want to change them you must first establish yourself as someone worthy of following. Just saying…

Bmchast

October 16th, 2009
3:27 pm

I wish I had sons and money to send to Morehouse in support of their outstanding leadership to stand up for change. This decision I believe is a great plus for the men in the House.

bmchast

Culpepper

October 16th, 2009
4:01 pm

I believe that students should have the right and are entitled to voice their concerns and issues with policies that they feel strongly about. Students at Morehouse would ultimately have to comply with these policies and they have a right to address their concerns as well. I totally understand why Morehouse feels it must enforece a dress code. However, the issue that most students are concerned with is Morehouse’s reputation for not being receptive to alternative lifestyles. I suspect some students feel that the school is sending a message that gays should “hide themselves” and that their “behavior” is not acceptable to the Morehouse tradition-thats the bigger issue. Then again, Morehouse is not for everyone, what school is? But that is not a reason to create a policy that sends the wrong message to student who are just as gifted and talented but who happen to be gay.

Parent

October 16th, 2009
4:35 pm

Their are many well dressed black gay men who would probably fit right in at Morehouse.

jim d

October 16th, 2009
4:38 pm

Culpper,

WHAT !!!!! Gays don’t wear suits?!?!?

dino

October 16th, 2009
6:54 pm

Professionalism always included appearance. Potiental employeers, investors, new student, etc will see the school and students in awhole new light when everyone looks presentable. A first impression is usual based on appearance. I love the idea and hope the student see the positive affects that will come from this change

Another Morehouse Alum

October 16th, 2009
7:38 pm

Homosexuals have always been a presence at Morehouse. The policy does not prevent anyone who is a homosexual from living their life the way they see fit. It does not prevent any student that espouses street fashion from living their life. What the policy does is establish guidelines of appropriate dress in conformance with the mission, values, history, and tradition of the college. Just as cutoff shorts may not be allowed at some private golf courses, hats are not to be worn inside of Morehouse buildings with the exception or religious attire. Just like some restaurants require jacket and tie, Morehouse says that jeans are inappropriate for Crown Forum. It’s about creating an experience, not just providing an education. If you want to wear pajamas to class, or cross-dress for that matter, you have the choice of attending an institution that will accommodate your preferences.

ROCKMEN1

October 16th, 2009
7:56 pm

I applaud the decision to enforce the dress code. What took so long? I long for the Olde Morehouse. Where a man dressed and acted like a man.

payroll

October 16th, 2009
8:02 pm

Pumps??? LOLLOLLOL!!!!!!

SpelHouse Product

October 16th, 2009
8:04 pm

I COMPLETELY APPLAUD THIS EFFORT!!!!. When I originally read “Young MEN of Morehouse, pull up your pants, remove your do-rags, high heels and remove your shades and hats when you enter a building”, I was completely beside myself, not to mentioned completely disturbed with it (esp HIGH HEELS??).. WTH???

As a multiple generation product of SpelHouse, and with many, many, family members and friends that are alumn of Morehouse, I was absolutely floored that the issue of dress (particularly dressing like a FEMALE at an ALL MALE institution) has gotten so out of hand that they had to create and enforce rules prohibiting it. While I realize that there are in fact homosexuals that attend this ALL MALE institution, and frankly I could care less about that, however, this is unquestionably an ALL MALE institution, with the key word here being MALE… in other words and bottom line MEN DO NOT DRESS LIKE WOMEN PERIOD.

Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays (President of Morehouse 1940-67) said it best “A Legacy to Keep and an Image to Uphold”.. and that definitely applies here..

E

October 16th, 2009
8:54 pm

As a Morehouse College Alumnus, I must applaud this! I respect everyones right to wear and be what they want to be. BUT, If you want to be a woman (your choice and I have nothing against you or your choice) or a thug (that is your choice) but this prestigious college was establish to build leaders (African American Men). If you want to be a woman, then Spelman College (a great women’s college is an option for you), if you want to be a thug, there are alot of colleges out there that accept that behavior. This is the prestigious college that African American leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and others have attended. Please represent! People wake up, our leaders are being led astray (gay, thugged out, selling drugs or on drugs, in jail, killing each other at the drop of a dime), we need to start somewhere to get our students and future leaders back on the right path. Actually it needs to start in the elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, but if there is not the controls/power to do it there, then I am pleased that Morehouse has stepped up to show that it can be done and needs to be done in private institutions.

miss america

October 16th, 2009
10:09 pm

Interesting. The president of Morehouse sends his daughter to Stanford University. A college with no ‘dress code’ for its students.

Morehouse Student

October 16th, 2009
10:17 pm

I sit here reading these comments in shock, and i laugh… Morehouse needs to stop worrying about image, and needs to start worrying about the gay population(which i can say is rather large), that pays out of pocket for their school tuition. I have never seened such an institution worriied about clothing, rather than the lack of proper learning methods to improve students learning. I am disapointed, and they keep saying find else where to go, I am a senior if i want to go elsewhere( which i have already tried) morehouse doesnt transfer a split of credits that most schools will take…..so how about you reimburse me all of my 120,000 and find else where to go, im almost done, why am i being forced to leave now because of the way i dress. And yes i am a straight male, who finds it hard for people to adapt to their environment. when a morehouse man hits the work force and his boss is gay, what happens..does he reflect on what his President At morehouse said and be jobless. This is the real world, and the administration simply lives in our world..they are there from 9am to 5pm…so to be honest with you admin should only be taking our money, and insuring our campus is safe and violence free along with academics…
its a shame cant wait to graduate

Morehouse Alumnus

October 16th, 2009
10:37 pm

The problem with this policy is that it is yet another example of Morehouse focusing on frivolous issues that have nothing at all to do important outcomes like graduation rates or issues like student safety in West End Atlanta. Compared to increasing graduation rates or ensuring that students can walk around campus without being shot, giving “stirring” speeches and wasting time on silly dress code policies based on the actions of a handful of students seems is an easy out.