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Community College uniform change sparks debate


Female students of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) Division of Arts, Sciences and General Studies will be sporting a new look when the new academic year opens next week.{{more}}

They will now wear solid green, “A” line skirts, instead of the familiar pleated green plaid skirt, a move by authorities to achieve greater compliance with the dress code. But there is dissatisfaction with the change in some circles.

Dean of SVGCC, Rosa Vanloo, explained that the change came about mainly because students were not adhering to rules about the length of their pleated skirts.

“The students did not adhere to the length (of skirts) so we had a lot of problems with very short skirts, given the fact that we have a lot of stairs up here and the wind and so forth…, the short skirts were not appropriate,” she added.

Vanloo explained that “A” line skirts were chosen to remain uniformed with the other community college divisions, the Technical College, Teachers College and the Nursing Division.

The new skirts should be worn at knee or calf length with the usual waistcoat and a white cotton blouse. Females also have the option of wearing solid green trousers, the waistcoat and a white cotton blouse.

However, concerns have been raised by some students about the fairness to second-year students who now have to spend money on new uniforms that they will wear for less than a year.

Vanloo said, however, she did not see any unfairness in the case of second-year students since they were informed of the intended change at the end of the third term in a letter to parents. In any event, she added, students are only supposed to wear skirts for religious or medical reasons, otherwise pants should be worn.

The dean suggested, too, that making the new uniforms should be less expensive since the solid green material costs $21 per yard, compared to $35 per yard for the green plaid material.

She added: “We are recommending that they do not wear sneakers with the skirts because a straight skirt like that calls for a more professional dressing.”

In response to criticism of the practicality or comfort of the new skirt, Vanloo asked: “What makes a straight skirt less appropriate than a plaid skirt…?”

She added: “When the girls started wearing skirts here in the early days they had the plaid skirts and they wore [them] with stockings and heels. We didn’t tell them to wear stockings and heels; that’s the way they thought they should be dressed.”

Vanloo said that their main objective was to ensure that students wear their uniform with pride, while adhering to the rules.

“We are expecting students to wear their uniform with pride and stick to the regulations that we give them. That’s all we ask of them – to dress appropriately.”

First year students are also expected to report to the college on Wednesday, September 9, 2009, in their full uniform, whether skirts or trousers. (OS)