Friday, October 29, 2010

You gotta be kiddin' me

In the I-can't-believe-this-is-true category, word is out that there is a committee organized on campus that is seeking to institute a mandatory DRESS CODE for CSU students.

I'm posting this on behalf of a student who brought this to my attention this week. My student told me that this initiative to mandate a dress code is coming out of a subcommittee of the President's Executive Council which includes administrators and students. The Senate President confirmed that there is a discussion going on about this.

So, with all the things that need attention on this campus, this is what our CEO chooses to focus on? The great micromangerial presidency of the past year is now seeking to micromanage not just his administrators, faculty, and staff, but students as well.

What is driving such an initiative as this? Is it the ubiquitous "business model" that is supposed to be the panacea for all problems at American universities? The BHS building is plastered with rhetorical slogans urging students to drop the baseball caps and wear business attire.

I asked a few professors of my acquaintance if they noticed the falling-down pants to be prevalent in their classes or around campus and the non-scientific consensus was no. One professor said that it is rare enough to see this on campus that when you do see it you remark on it. It is hardly the case that our students are any worse in dress than students who walk around Columbia College or Roosevelt University.

Two things, I believe are at work here. Last year, Morehouse University adopted a dress code (see article and link I've posted below). Another professor here on campus noted that the dress code discussion reflects a generational issue within the African American community. I'm flashing back to 1960s and 70s horror with which the white middle class reacted when their children took to wearing jeans (an original sign of rebellion), when their sons grew long hair and their daughters wore miniskirts.

My irate CSU student said another rationale for the dress code goes something like this: CSU risks losing donor money if potential donors come to campus and see students in sloppy gangwear. Um, does anyone else here see the racist underpinning to that way of thinking?

Bottom line. CSU is not a private HBCU. CSU is not a high school. CSU is not church. If my student's anger over the dress code is any indication of student response on campus, I'd like to see the Administration try to enforce it. I think CSU's president has better things to do than to go around campus telling students to pull up their pants.
Morehouse dress code seeks to “get back to the legacy”
By Mashaun D. Simon
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
6:05 p.m. Friday, October 16, 2009

Young men of Morehouse, pull up your pants, remove your do-rags and remove your shades and hats when you enter a building.

Thanks to a new policy on the campus of Morehouse College, they are no longer permissible.

The new policy is an effort to “get back to the legacy” of Morehouse leaders, said Dr. William Bynum, vice president of the Office of Student Services.

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

The policy details 11 expectations of students, including:

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

* no sun glasses 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.

Students that violate the new rules risk academic suspension.

Bynum said most students are supportive of the policy.

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.”

Daniel Edwards, co-president of Safe Space, a gay straight alliance student campus organization said he has heard from students that are for and against the policy, but he believes it is discriminatory.

It is the restriction to women’s clothing that has many students up in arms.

“Some believe that this restriction is what the entire policy is correlated around,” added Edwards. “It is all an issue of perception and what manner of image you want to prescribe to.”

But the new policy is not meant to be discriminatory, said Bynum.

“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.”

Morehouse is not the only college to enforce a dress policy.

Hampton University also has a dress code, including within its business school where students with braids or dreadlocks are encouraged to cut their hair. And Bennett College, in Greensboro, N.C., has enforced a policy similar to Morehouse’s.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Time Flies 2003-2010

A lot of buzz this month kicking off accreditation on campus--committees are meeting-- a new "mission" statement underway, a university "self-study" that will take some time to put together for the big 2013 HLC review. In the meantime, after much searching on campus, (you won't find it on the web, you will not find it in the university archives--supposedly the repository for these types of documents)-- but it finally emerged: The Higher Learning Commission's Report of a Comprehensive Evaluation Visit to Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois, April 7-9 2003.

You know the saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same?" Wow, check out what HLC wrote about CSU's governance (shared or rather, lack thereof) in 2003. I wonder what exactly was the problem with a Provost search at that time? At any rate, check out some interesting excerpts from the report. There's still time for CSU to change it's evil ways...
OR La plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose..."

[2003 HLC Report sect.V. B.2.k. p. 11] "While governance structures are in place, many faculty, staff and students do not feel respected nor empowered. Further, there are significant communication gaps in governance mechanisms."

RE: [2003 HLC Report. V.C.2.a, pp. 13-14] "While the organization has many structures to effectively execute the mission and programs of the University, there is a lack of communication and feedback loops between the hierarchy of these structures to allow for information sharing and recognition of sound practices. This lack allows many anxieties and concerns to rebound through several layers of faculty, staff, and administration before the individual or group with expertise and knowledge base can correct misinformation and communicate chosen avenues of decision making. There is a lack of knowledge about roles and expectations. Many groups and individuals feel slighted but also do not understand the decision making process. Communication about how decisions are made and who carries the responsibility for decisions would greatly improve the morale on this campus. For example, faculty were not aware of how the provost search process was established, and many faculty and staff were operating with misinformation or conjectures about the budget. Communication issues extend to students who also expressed concerns about not being heard, and about receiving conflicting information from university offices"

[2003 HLC Report. V.D.2.a &b., p.17 ]
a.Despite the existence of mechanisms for faculty participation in the decision-making process (Faculty Senate, collective bargaining unit), the Team is concerned that many faculty do not feel empowered or respected by the administration. A recent example includes the establishment of a search committee for the Provost. Faculty Senate leadership do not perceive that they were appropriately consulted. Misperceptions also exist regarding whether admissions standards were raised and the role of the faculty in any process to do so. Many staff and students expressed similar feelings of lack of respect and input.
b. There is a significant communication challenge at Chicago State University. Many do not know their role in the decision-making process and frequently were unaware of the decisions that were made. The Provost search is one example and misinformation about budgets is another. Students expressed displeasure about the lack of factual information and being "bounced" from office to office when they seek assurance. The University will have a much brighter future when this significant issue is resolved."

RE: Strategic planning [2003 HLC Report. V.E.1.d, p. 18] "CSU's strategic planning process is public and directly involves faculty, staff and students."
[2003 HLC Report. V.E.1.f, p. 18] "The University's strategic planning process is public and inclusive. Budget priorities are developed in concert with the plan. Effective mechanisms are in place to monitor the plan, and the Budget Committee ensures that financial resources are linked to the plan's implementation."

Fundraising [2003 HLC Report. V.B.2.i, p.10] "While the University is to be commended for its recent fund-raising activities, these are still in their infancy. A culture of philanthropy initiative is currently underway. The Team encourages this development. In addition to the President and the development office, best practices indicate that the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board should also assume prominent roles."