Colleges Shouldn’t Care about “Morality” and Dress Codes

The purpose of an educational institution is to impart knowledge. That, and to provide avenues to develop the various skills and potentialities of its students. So why exactly do colleges like MCC tell their students what to wear? Now I realize these are private institutions and its their prerogative to dictate any kind of dress code they want. If tomorrow colleges say that all students should keep pet parrots on their shoulders, that’s their right. Just like every business can impose any kind of crazy conditions if they want. Their business, their rules.

Gender Segregation in Colleges

Gender Segregation in Colleges

But here’s the problem. Colleges and other educations institutions don’t treat students as customers. They forget that the students and their parents are paying them money in return for a service. Instead these places have a kind of mentality that makes them think they have an ethical right to dictate what kind of lives their customers must lead. What they can wear, who can visit in their rooms, and at what time they should come back to the hostel. In many cases, these students are above 18. They’re adults and don’t require the permission of their “guardians” or anyone else. They come to college to get knowledge. Wearing jeans or sleeveless tops doesn’t magically prevent the brain from absorbing knowledge. So what gives?

Some people feel that a college’s job isn’t just to impart knowledge, but to develop a person’s character. That’s dubious because it begs the question of who gets to define the “ideal” character. Sure, a college can have a host of extra curricular activities – debate clubs, sports, trekking expeditions and what not. All these help build this mystical “character” thing and students can choose to join these groups or stay away as per their wishes. But colleges don’t stop there. They go further into trying to dictate morals to their students and that’s where the problems start.

Another line of argument claims that sleeveless tops and “skimpy dresses” distract students from their studies. I feel this is a load of horseshit for two reasons. First, there’s no data to indicate that colleges where boys and girls can mix freely have a lower academic performance. If anything, the reverse is true. None of the well known, top, and famous colleges have absurd rules like “Boys shouldn’t talk to girls” or have ropes segregating the sexes in buses. Second, as this article in the TOI shows, students passing out of colleges with restrictive policies are ill equipped to deal with the modern workplace where people of both sexes mingle with each other on a day to day basis. The focus is on getting the job done – not with the gender of the other person.

If the goal of a college is to prepare a student for professional life, then institutions with stupid rules that don’t reflect the modern workplace are simply unsuitable, incompetent, and a fraud. Even a purely girls college or a purely boys college is better than a “co-ed” institution where the focus is on keeping the two genders apart. Because this just sends a message that talking to the opposite sex is wrong. And that’s simply unacceptable in the modern workplace. If the excuse for these rules is that it’s “distracting”, then what happens when the pass outs need to deliver on their deadlines in an environment where working closely with male and female colleagues is the norm?

I also feel that the absurd segregation in schools is responsible for the warped attitudes we Indians have towards the opposite sex and sexuality in general. There’s simply no opportunity for developing the necessary skills. So when hormones hit, many people choose grossly inappropriate methods like stalking, and harassment generously helped along by films and Indian movies that propagate the myth that harassing a girl is the best way to get her to fall in love with you!

I sincerely hope that well known companies will openly stop hiring from colleges that implement backward practices like segregation of the sexes. It’s in their best interests that they hire employees who have experience working with everyone regardless of gender. Once people are aware of these hiring policies, they’ll stop applying to such places. It’ll be the only thing to finally get through to them.


  1. Western Point of View says:

    hey again Bhagwad. You make a good point, but at the same time, even though the students are paying the education, the libertarian mentality is this: you can always go elsewhere. If you don’t like the dress code, don’t attend the school.

    • bhagwad says:

      Yeah, I conceded that point in the beginning. It’s their college, and their private property. They can have any kind of stupid rule they want.

      I’m only encouraging companies to stop hiring from these colleges. And for people to stop attending them because it doesn’t prepare one for work life.

      • Western Point of View says:

        you are right, however the companies have a right to do whatever they want. They probably support such values. Here in the US, Notre Dame is a big time Catholic/conservative school that implements similar (not quite as extreme) values regarding morality, yet they are considered one of the best schools in the US. Plenty of American companies hire from these colleges.

        Does it really matter what college you went to? I mean i went to a state school and have a better job than many of my private school buddies. Companies hire on the basis of experience, right?

        Companies can do what they want. So can the schools. The best thing to do–don’t go to such schools. Don’t support them. Go elsewhere.

        As far as life preparation, that is up to the consumer/student. H/she should take the responsibility to prepare for life, not the school. Life experience prepares you for life, not institutions. They help, but at the end of the day, its up to you.

      • bhagwad says:

        I know they have a right. Just like I have a right to complain about it and persuade people not to go there and try and tell companies not to hire from such places no?

  2. Clueless says:

    I think it is really easy to say “Don’t go to that school” when there are meaningful options available. In India, a LOT of educational institutions have such policies. Given the amount of competition that is there to get into ANY engineering college, the student does not really have a meaningful choice to reject any institution. Furthermore, how you “behave” directly affects the scores you can get in your practical exams, etc. From personal experience, I know that I got very average points for what was a stellar performance in one of the Engineering lab exams because, according to the person conducting the exams “You cannot wear sleeveless…this is not a picnic” ! And the best part – there was no rule in the institution banning sleeveless outfits or their implications on our examination results.

    Private institutions have a lot of freedom in determining how they function. But they cannot discriminate based on certain criteria – gender, race, religion. Just imagine if racism in private institutions was OKayed and we were just told not to choose to work there! The institutions here are clearly discriminating based on sex – access to classrooms, labs etc determined by your gender which is a violation. Also, most of these institutions depend on government sponsored examinations to select students and also receive government funding for some scholarships,etc. If so, then we as tax payers have every right to ask the government which is using our tax money to take action against these institutions as they are not completely private.

    That said, it is extremely sad that I know of parents who will happily send their kids to such institutions with the hope that their wards will be “protected” and “study well”.

    • bhagwad says:

      That’s a good point. If institutions are receiving government aid in any form, then we have a right to demand that they pull their policies in line with the freedoms in the Constitution.

      And yes – it’s true that most people don’t really have a choice given the intense competition to enter into colleges. Which is why I feel the pressure should come from companies that hire from such places.

    • Western Point of View says:

      they have a choice–don’t go to college. Work for a Saw Mill and make a good amount of money. Not great, but good. You can always go over seas. Plenty of kids from India come into the Cal State system and do quite well. They take their experience back home with them and end up in some great paying jobs. Most of them remain in the US.

      BTW, a private organization has every right to discriminate against race, gender, religion etc. Its their own right. You guys make a point, however about government funds. At the same time, if you are against India invading Pakistan, its not like you can tell the Indian government “hey i dont’ agree with your Pakistani policies” doesn’t mean India isn’t going to invade Pakistan, right?

      This is why libertarianism is the best. The government shouldn’t even exist unless it is there to defend life, liberty and property and that is it. Government sponsored ANYTHING doesn’t work. And in India’s case, government sponsored schools (and again to a lesser degree the US sees this as well).

      BTW, speaking on discrimination, if you are a theater manager and need to hire a male for a male role and reject females, is that discrimination?

      • Western Point of View says:

        btw, i should say libertarianism is the 2nd best form of governance.

        In terms of public funds, out here in the US, public television and public radio receive government subsidies, yet they have PLENTY of television/radio programs that are blatantly liberal programs promoting same sex, creationism and the works. Why is the government funding such institutions that are clearly polarizing people? The same applies with colleges in India–if you don’t like it, just don’t attend.

        If enough kids stop attending Indian colleges that enact such principles, maybe the schools will think twice.

  3. BB says:

    The reason these colleges feel that it is ok to go ahead with such ridiculous rules is because they have the parents approval. I know people in my neighborhood in Chennai who have children in college with such rules/restrictions and are happy that their kids are in good hands and will not get distracted. I’m amazed at their thinking. The kids hate it though. In some colleges in Pondicherry, girls can not wear salwar suits with half sleeves at all.Forget sleeveless.
    I think this mentality of not treating college students as adults and letting them deal with real life has to be a change in which the students have to protest or agree to not go to such colleges. Both parents and the colleges seem to treat the college campus as an extension of grade school with strict rules etc and not let students explore other aspects of life apart from studies.
    The worst part is 12 years after I finished college, the rules are worse/stricter compared to my time.

    • Western Point of View says:

      then if the kids don’t like it, they should move out of mom and dad’s house and go elsewhere. They are adults, so maybe they should stop relying on mom for chai and dad for money and make it on their own. If they live in their parents house, their gonna have to abide by the parents likes and institutionalized thinking.

      The kids hate it? Do something about it.

      BTW guess who is paying for these kids college bills–the parents.

      This is one nice thing about the US education system: the parents are not even apart of the question. Some kids are helped by their parents, others are not.

      Want to be treated like an adult? Find a college that treats you like an adult.

  4. Clueless says:

    “BTW, a private organization has every right to discriminate against race, gender, religion etc. Its their own right.”

    No they do not. The law says that we cannot discriminate based on those criteria and it is a punishable offence. Regarding your theater manager example, just substitute male lead with the actual requirements of the role. As in the look, the pitch of the voice, etc. You will most probably end up with a male lead. However, if there are no such requirements / necessities and you still blatantly discriminate – that is the issue.

    In a educational setting, you cannot come up with any such “requirement” that will explain why they are segregating students in buses, preventing girls from talking to their male professors, etc. There is no plausible explanation for denying someone the benefit of interaction with teachers based on gender.

    • Western Point of View says:

      why not? As a private business holder, I should be able to allow anyone into my establishment and reserve the right to reserve service to anyone. It is my business and therefore my right to do so. You don’t like it? Don’t come to my shop/business etc. If I have a shop and I don’t allow Hindus in, it is my perogative. People can either shop them or put me out of business by NOT shopping there. True libertarianism.

      I don’t want someone to have “the look” or ” the voice” as this particular role may require full frontal nudity. What you call blatant discrimination is not such.

      In an education system there is a form of discrimination–credentially based. If you didn’t graduate high school guess what, you are not allowed in the educational system.

      Again, a private university can do whatever it wants. YOu know what is an alternative? Go to another university that doesn’t segragate.

      Remember, you are a college student, a form of a consumer. If I found out that there was pork in my hot dogs, for example, do you know what I do? I don’t get the government involved, I simply stop buying those hot dogs. The student can EASILY do the same thing. Go elsewhere or don’t go to college at all if you don’t like the system.

      Work on a sugar cane plantation, it is pretty lucrative. Open a small business, that makes money too. You don’t HAVE to go to college if you feel so zealously about segragation and the such.

      • bhagwad says:

        That depends on whether you view a business as a quasi public entity or an entirely private one. It’s no secret that businesses have restrictions on them that don’t apply to individuals. Like taxation, safety regulations etc.

      • Western Point of View says:

        sorry, doesn’t mean i cannot. Meaning I can discriminate whoever I want to because its my house. Businesses have similar rights.

  5. //then if the kids don’t like it, they should move out of mom and dad’s house and go elsewhere… If they live in their parents house, their gonna have to abide by the parents likes and institutionalized thinking.//

    It’s very difficult to move out – where do they go? What do they eat, where do they live? In smaller towns it is even more difficult. Single women would find it difficult to even rent a place, in smaller towns the neighbours could get away with questioning, harassing and even molesting – because what was a single girl doing, staying alone in the first place?
    Many young people see the education as a passport to self reliance and freedom, so they feel it’s okay to tolerate the outrageous controls for four years. Doesn’t always work that way, many get used to no-sleeveless and no talking to the opposite sex by the time they are free to wear whatever they like (conditions still apply though)…

    And the parents know this. They want obedient ‘children’ who marry someone who the parents want them to marry, and live where the parents want them to live – also eat, wear, work where and what the parents want. If the parents didn’t want the restrictions, there would be no restrictions.

    • bhagwad says:

      Yep – probably all flows from the parents. Which is why I feel the only change will come when companies refuse to hire from these places. Let’s hope that happens. After all, they want productive employees who are able to work with people of the opposite sex.

    • Western Point of View says:

      American kids move out all of the time–where do they go? Dorms or an apartment. What do they eat? Its their problem. Mom ain’t gonna make chai anymore, its on them now.

      Molesting, harassment, etc.? Call local law enforcement. If the town in question harrasses, move out of the town to another one, simple as that. Maybe a single girl can live in the dorms at the university.

      Kids have either two choices: they can be reliant upon mom and dad but live by their institutionalized thinking OR they can take a risk, like the Steve Jobs of the world and fend for themselves. In the US, kids simply take care of themselves. No one is cooking for them, or cleaning etc. Plenty of apartment units harass single girls as the tenants even here question “what the heck is this single girl doing here?” But you know what? They put up with it.

      I beg to differ that Indian kids aren’t productive employees. Plenty of kids come from India to the US and tend to be some of the best employees on staff. Some of our best doctors, lawyers, engineers etc are from India and were educated in India. They have no adjustment issues. THey have no “work life” issues. Is this ONLY occuring in India? These kids ALSO tend to be very conservative and are “obedient” kids, so they have the best of both worlds.

      • Fem says:

        You are either stupid or extremely ignorant. While I am in favour of kids moving out and being independent, it is not possible for everyone in India. There are not many part time jobs, and labour laws are not followed strictly. Law enforcement is often not your friend and there is no way you can depend on anyone to make life safe for you. This isn’t about cooking or cleaning but about finding a place to stay, finding a job to finance yourself and finding a college which doesn’t trespass on your rights.

        Conservative youngsters in the US have a system they can depend on to break the cycle, which we don’t have here. Please learn something about the subject you speak about before spouting nonsense. What you are doing here is victim blaming.

      • bhagwad says:

        True. I agree that we need to take these differentiating factors into consideration.

      • Western Point of View says:

        It also isn’t possible for everyone in the US as well. Ask yourself this–does everyone HAVE to go to college? You have a choice–go to college and abide by these rules or don’t go to college and figure out how to make your own income. I have plenty of family members that work in sugar cane and they make a pretty hefty amount. Back in the day, plenty of Patel’s were doing quite well, yet not all of them went to school. If you have a particular conviction, stick to it.

        If you thoroughly believe these colleges trespass your “rights” then simply don’t attend them. Sure you might give up financial security, but you are giving into your convictions.

        BTW, you guys are india’s “future” right? There are more young people than old, so how about using more libertarian methods to change the face of India? If most youngsters stop attending college due to such issues, guess what? Colleges lose revenue and would be forced to re-think their strategies. Sacrifice is necessary, but if you feel a particular way about these moral codes, then wouldn’t it be worth it?

        The major difference between kids in the US and in India, particularly Bhanie kids and the such is that Indian kids are very complacent yet very opinionated, while American kids arent’ as opinionated and are not very complacent either. They tend to do more here, while in India they tend to talk more. Action is necessary. Human beings are smart, especially in India. A lot of kids from India figure out smart ways to study abroad and do great. A lot of kids who were educated in india end up working in the US and their work/life is just fine and healthy.

        THe lack of part time jobs, law enforcement issues, girls having restrictions, etc are just cop outs. It is your responsibility to figure out how to go around those issues. YOu want to go to college? Follow the codes. Don’t want to follow the codes? don’t go to college.

      • Fem says:

        Sure, it is up to citizens to be the change they want to see. But you still sound like a moron because you are comparing American kids to Indian ones. Their problems and circumstances are very different, and the point you make about Indians succeeding in the US is the very point I am trying to make – they succeed because the system works. Here, it doesn’t. Now please stop victim blaming. Expecting decent law enforcement is not a ‘cop out’. It is a basic necessity!

  6. Western Point of View says:

    even if businesses were subsidized by the government, they are still entirely private. General Motors received temporary subsidies to prevent bankruptcy, yet they can still do whatever they want in house.

    Safety regulations are REGULATIONS, not the government essentially running your house. Just because the government tells me i HAVE to use a certain type of insulation in my house doesn’t mean I can discriminate certain people from coming into my house, right? Houses have safety regulations too. The houses are still private property.

    Again, more reason to simply to not work for these particular companies or attend such schools. Find another company or find another school.

    • bhagwad says:

      Not everyone agrees that the government should have bailed on GM. In any case, GM like all other companies is required to abide by non discrimination laws etc.

      • Western Point of View says:

        Not everyone agrees the government should have bailed them out, but they got bailed out anyways. They can still do what they want in house. It is still a private enterprise.

        but discrimination laws in themselves are vague. For example, many companies ask whether you ever were arrested or not and are allowed to use this basis in terms of hiring. Isn’t that in itself discrimination? Also, many companies require you to lift a certain amount of weight, otherwise your are not hired. Isn’t that a form of discrimination.

        Even so, Civil Rights laws are ridiculous. Even people like Ron Paul have said Civil Rights laws have made things worse than better.

        Best way to deal with civil rights issues? Don’t support a particular company. If you know GM is racist against blacks, don’t work for GM, simple as that.

        If you know a partaicular school has a certain moral code, don’t attend the school. Not difficult.

      • bhagwad says:

        Not everyone agrees that they should be able to do anything in house. Just because the US does something doesn’t mean it’s right.

        I feel if you take even 1 cent of public aid, you give up some of your autonomy.

  7. Fem says:

    And while we are at it, let me also point out that there is discrimination in college ‘dorms’ or hostels as we call them here. Girls are expected to sign in at a certain time in the evening while no such restriction exist for boys.

    • Western Point of View says:

      Discrimination? Sorry, the girls have to deal with it. Again, if you don’t like the system, don’t be apart of it. Don’t go to school. Figure something else out.

      Human beings are all alike. If you want something, just work hard and you can get it. Do you really need to go to college? Plenty of Patels in Gujarat do quite well without having a degree.

      The circumstances are very different, but problems are problems at the end of the day. American kids are a lot less complacent about their problems and are more proactive. Indian kids tend to be comforted by the fact that they don’t need to grow up since the school institutions and their parents take care of them (and take care of them quite well). The reason Indian kids do quite well in the US is because after years of failure in the US (ie the first 2-3 years), the kids understand that they have to grow up. Mom isn’t around to make chai anymore. Dad isn’t around to give money anymore. The kids acknowledge this and do well. Some kids, however, hate this and move back to India. Seen it plenty of times.

  8. Western Point of View says:

    You do make a good point about public aid and autonomy. That is where libertarianism comes in. You either thrive or die. The government shouldn’t be helping you out.

    With that in mind, in the US, we have to follow zoning and follow certain safety regulatiosn EVERYWHERE, right? If I have to have a certain type of insulation in my attic because the government requires me to do so, that doesn’t mean I lose the ability to discriminate in my own house, right?

    Also, would tax breaks fall under “public aid?” You aren’t receiving public aid per se, but you are receiving less of a taxed burden.

    Public entities are different from private entities since the government is the actual employer. GM, though receiving SOME aid in the past, is still private. What CAN happen is the government can tell GM, look if we bail you out, you better stop discriminating. Such explicit statements or contractual agreements can be made.

    Coming back to the education system, you don’t like the system? don’t be apart of it. Find another way to make your income.

    • bhagwad says:

      So it’s a question of degree. Some intervention is allowed. Some isn’t.

      • Western Point of View says:

        Governments that do intervene are almost dictatorial. Best way to go–only life liberty and pursuit of property. no government intervention at all.

        If you don’t like it, like in the case of these schools, then don’t attend. If you are going to bust, the government can’t help you out.

        No more federal reserve. Back to the gold standard and back to the US citizen being truly free of these dumb man-made regulations that don’t work.

        This goes back to the whole discrimination thing–if Disneyland can prevent heavily tattooed people from entering its park, it also reserves the right to prevent, say suspicious looking blacks, from entering the park, right?

Add Your Comment