In Part 1 of, “What Happened to the Handbook?” we explored what the handbook actually changed in regards to the media policy. This week, in Part 2, we look at how the dress code was changed.
In addition to the media policy updates, the dress code was rewritten with the most notable changes being to get rid of sentences that seemed more gender specific, more restrictive to the women of IWU than to the men. Like the media policy, the new dress code is significantly shorter. In the old policy, even the name was different. The old section of the handbook used to be titled “Appropriate Appearance and Attire” but has been updated to “Dress Code.” Under the old policy, neatness and cleanliness were required. No extreme clothing or hairstyles were allowed. Examples of banned styles for men included hair that was longer than the collar and piercings. The only piercing women were allowed to wear was jewelry in their ears. In chapel no hats were allowed. No bikinis were allowed anywhere on campus. Rules specific to women said women must wear bras, make sure the shoulder straps of their clothing were wider than two inches, and not wear anything shorter than the length of their fingertips. Everyone had to keep their torso covered.
In the new policy, most of these rules have been deleted. Community members are still required not to dress in a way that is sexually provocative. The new policy is simplified to four basic rules. Cover your torso. Wear shoes. Don’t wear bikinis. Don’t let anyone see your underwear. In actual practice, most members of the IWU community believe not much will change under the new policies.
We’ve all seen women on campus wearing nose piercings and men with long hair. Sometimes we didn’t shower, regardless of the rules. We need to ask questions under both policies. What helps us make choices? What is the role of the Holy Spirit? What is the role of the Student Handbook boundaries? Does IWU want to teach us how to make these kinds of choices, or are we supposed to teach ourselves? Neither option is bad, but either way, it could be helpful to know which of the two IWU intends on supporting and how.
Keep an eye out for Part 3 of this series, where we will dive into the Scripture passages used to support these codes.