University Students Oppose Dress Code Policies, Issue Directive

His sentiments drew mixed reactions from users who...

University Students Oppose Dress Code Policies, Issue Directive
A collage of items banned from Kenyan universities' dress codes. /VIRALTEAKE

The Kenya University Student Organization (KUSO) is urging all university students across the country to ignore new directives that have been revealed by two universities in 2023 on dress code policies.

KUSO President Anthony Manyara, in a statement dated Sunday, January 22, accused the Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) and the University of Eldoret of threatening their students with consequences for failing to adhere to the dress code policies as depicted in memos that went viral on social media.

Manyara added that there is no approved law, policy or set of regulations that have been passed globally or approved by stakeholders in the institutions of higher learning regarding dress code rules in Kenya.

KUSO president Anthony Manyara. /THE STAR

"It should be noted that no approved law, bylaw, policy or set of regulations have ever been passed universally, and approved by any Committee on Education of the bicameral house, of Kenya. 

"Any changes in attires or dressing in any institution in Kenya must happen after following due process of constitutional provisions on public participation (in this regard, students via their reps, amongst other key stakeholders) as clearly spelt out in articles 69 (1) (d), 118, 174, 184, 196, 201 (a), 221 (5), and 232 (1) (d) among others," he stated in part.

Manyara further called upon all university students to shun any dress code policies imposed on them by their respective institutions, terming them oppressive and retrogressive to student life on campus.

He vowed consequences on any institution found to be targeting students or profiling them for dressing in a manner that its administration finds unfit for the conduct of the university.

"In light of this, KUSO hereby directs all students from all institutions of higher learning to disregard the said directives and treat them as oppressive, retrogressive, thalakwensic innuendos, which they are. So long as a comrade doesn’t walk naked, all is well on campus. 

"Any student targeted or ethically profiled for dressing in a way, any institution administration deems inappropriate, will automatically call for a collective solidarity of comrades. The repercussions are far way better imagined than remotely experienced," Manyara added.

His sentiments drew mixed reactions from users who sided with him regarding the blanket imposing of dress codes while others opposed Manyara and sided with the institutions' decisions on the same.

The University of Eldoret became the second institution in the country to impose a dress code, outlawing attire it considered inappropriate.

In its internal memo to students dated Thursday, January 19, Dean of Students Lelei Kiboiy urged the students to dress in gender-appropriate attire that should also show their personal details as recorded in university admission records.

Female students were banned from wearing micro/mini-skirts; skin-tight trousers; ragged/torn/ripped jeans; tumbo- cut blouses/T-shirts.

Also banned were low-cut blouses/dresses; micro shorts and transparent dresses; attires showing bra straps or sleeveless T-shirts.

As for the male students, sagging trousers; clothes revealing chests and ragged/torn/ripped jeans are not allowed.

On Thursday, January 5, the Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) led the way in enforcing a new dress code policy for students in 2023, banning male and female students from donning attire that would be considered to breach the conduct of the university.

Male students were barred from wearing Rasta/dreadlocks (Wear properly groomed hair), Plaited hair, Earrings, Untucked shirts, Vests that show bare chests as well as Hats/caps in classes and offices. The ban on plaited hair and dreadlocks triggered a national debate.

Other known universities with dress code policies include Daystar and Strathmore Universities.

An image of Strathmore University. /FILE