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Published: Friday, 12/14/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

University of Toledo seeks uniform look for its workers in public

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A new dress code for some University of Toledo student employees has prompted an unexpected backlash from some unhappy students who say the required uniform will be inconvenient and take away students’ ability to express their “individuality.”

The new dress code, which goes into effect in January, will require students to wear khaki pants and a navy blue polo shirt with the school emblem.

But, school administrators say much of the furor is based on inaccurate information. The dress code is being enacted because officials want student employees to dress appropriately when at work, said Dean of Students Michele Martinez.

“Yes, there is a new dress code,” Ms. Martinez said. “I know some students are upset because they don’t think it’s fair. However, they are being paid. A job off-campus would require the same thing.

“The purpose is to raise the level of professionalism of all employees, including students.”

The university is spending $2,800 to purchase 280 shirts for students, Ms. Martinez said. The purchase is covered by the school’s general fund, and the university will provide the shirts at no cost to students.

Several student employee groups, including residence hall advisers and tutors, have been vocal about opposing the new requirement.

But, Ms. Martinez said tutors will not be required to wear uniforms because they don’t have jobs that require them to interact with the general public.

“Instead of just asking us, they’re busy organizing petition drives,” Ms. Martinez said.

Some student tutors said they were told during a recent informational meeting that they will be required to wear the “uniform.” The student employees were told that the uniforms can only be worn at work, math tutor Joe Ozbolt said.

The problem is that many student employees will have to pack their uniforms in book bags and find some place to change, said Mr. Ozbolt, which is impractical since many tutors work one to two hour shifts, go to class, and then return for another shift.

“What they’ve told us is that the dress code will help prepare us for the future — yes, if we’re going to become a cashier at McDonald’s, or help people buy sneakers,” said Mr. Ozbolt.

Some tutors also worry that a uniform might intimidate timid students who seek out assistance.

The UT student government association recently entered the fray by passing a resolution 16-10 on Dec. 4, condemning the dress code. The resolution was forwarded to university officials.

“I’m not sure what effect our vote will have,” said Chris Dykyj, student government vice president.

“[School administrators] think it has been blown out of proportion. They’re supposed to be getting back to us.”

Mr. Dykyj said school officials have indicated the dress code is meant to be “a push to be professional,” and create a uniform dress standard.

Their intentions might be good, but the way it’s been carried out — with no input from students — is disappointing, Mr. Dykyj said.

“The dress code will be inconvenient and there’s a concern that student’s individuality will be taken away,” he said.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-304-7589.



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