The Curious Case of the AUD Dress Code

Walking across the university’s campus, minding my own business in my flow-top rustling in the wind – I suddenly noticed a lady waving her arms in my direction. Confused, I pop out one headphone out of my ear and look towards her. Who is that? Is she talking to me? I take a few steps closer. It’s AUD’s very own Joan Rivers. “Tuck your shirt in!” she said in a severe tone . I look down at my loose top to see half an inch of my bare stomach showing.

My first day at AUD in 2016 was an interesting one. I walked around each building familiarizing myself with my new surroundings after moving here from the U.S. I was welcomed by a big sign about the dress code. It had vectors next to each sign “No Cleavage!” with an image of a girl with the top of her chest out. “Don’t show your stomach, you’re not on the beach! No short shorts or skirts! No sagging pants and no offensive logos.”

The issue with the dress code here is that it seems to target women more than men. Male students can slip away with shirts with profanities on them, for example.“I was wearing spaghetti straps and I heard ‘hey you! cover your shoulders’ and she once tucked my bra strap in my shirt” says Tanpreet Hunan, economics exchange student.

I have to say, most security guards approach the situation with calm and respect. But sometimes they don’t do it in a discreet way. Instead of approaching the person, the guard waves her arms or yells from afar for the whole university to hear.

“I wear an abaya to university so it doesn’t make a difference to me,” explains Sara Al Qahtani, an Emirati engineering student. “But I think the dress code is a good thing because without it who knows what people will wear.”

“The American University in Dubai, in accordance with the laws of the UAE, adheres to specific guidelines regarding appropriate attire. As a result, students are expected to respect themselves and others by dressing properly while on campus,” states the university’s dress code. 

The dress code rules have been enforced as per government guidelines that cannot be changed. But the attitude towards the subject certainly can. Just like most things, it’s all about balance. Fair rules should apply to everyone, every gender, every shape and size.

Falak Al Refai

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