BULAWAYO – The Bulawayo Polytechnic has published a controversial new dress code which appears to target female students wearing skimpy or revealing clothing.
Students will be barred from lecture rooms for wearing clothes which are tight-fitting or reveal cleavage, the college said in a notice seen by ZimLive.
“The institution’s mandate is to train and groom professionals for commerce and industry…,” a November 15 memo signed by Chiedza Masanganise, the polytechnic’s principal, stated.
Those judged to be “inappropriately dressed” will be blocked from accessing the school’s facilities and attending lectures, he added.
The new regulations ban skirts or dresses that are more than 5 centimeters above the knees; string tops or dresses; biker and bum shorts; clothing that reveals cleavage; does not cover the shoulders and stomach; is short, tight-fitting, ripped, sleeveless or see-through.
Head gear is banned for male students except on religious grounds. Also banned is “dropping of trousers” or shorts, and slippers.
The dress code has sparked some disquiet among students.
“We are all adults who, in terms of the constitution, are allowed freedom of expression and other freedoms and I feel that this new development is violating our basic human rights,” said one student, speaking on condition they were not named.
The Bulawayo Polytechnic’s students representative council said: “We are never in support of anything that is against the freedom of the students.”
In 2019, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission legal and investigations department said while the constitution promotes various freedoms, a dress code can be imposed at institutions of higher learning.
It said female students, in particular, could prevent unwanted attention and sexual harassment by lecturers if they avoided wearing “revealing” clothes.