Thursday, November 5, 2009

Of dress codes and ragging

I recently met a rather lovely young lady, a lecturer and student counselor at the Arts Faculty. During the course of our conversation, she brought up the fact that it was approaching "rag season" and how the seniors had dictated that they carry a file (presumably for identification) and that the girls wear only skirts and the boys wear "proper" trousers instead of jeans.

I guess this would amount to the ragging in its mildest form - I have read of, spoken to and treated students who have been victims to the more atrocious and horrifying facets of this sad aspect of university life. Thankfully, I have never been ragged, and my only exposure to it was when several batchmates were bucketed when we went to sit for an exam at the management faculty premises - and this in spite of protests that we were final year medical students!

Back to the topic, I listened with interest to her indignation at how students had no right to dictate to others as to what they should or should not wear. She pointed out how most students face economic hardships, could not afford trousers instead of jeans, usually have one or two pairs of pants which they match with different blouses and couldn't afford skirts, faced great difficulty traveling by bus wearing a skirt etc.

When we met, she was dressed in a gorgeous kurtha top and pants. I was looking slightly disheveled in a saree which I hadn't bothered to starch. She asked me if I had driven to the meeting... I said I had taken the bus, and that I travel home by bus, saree and all.

But what amused me the most was the difference between our two faculties. Medical students are expected to dress formally/professionally from day one. This means the guys wear "proper" trousers and shirts and the girls wear skirts/dresses/shalwar/ and sometimes even saree according to their preference. Jeans are not allowed. Slippers are not allowed. Of course, if it is vacation and there are no scheduled ward classes or lectures we dress much more casually. I guess this is because the patients and the public expect something from a doctor - a projected image of competence and professionalism as well as good knowledge and skills.

I'm not arguing the merits or demerits of either way of dressing, nor am I denying the fact that many students face great economic hardship especially during the first few years where sometimes they literally don't have enough to eat - those are for another post altogether. I just find it funny that in the same university, what is considered ragging/harassment in one faculty is more or less the dress code in another faculty!


Anonymous said...

:D absolutely

Anonymous said...

hahaha.. i guess it all depends .. i mean I would think it torture to do most of the stuff you do as a medic.. correction.. actually that would be all the stuff.

plus uni's the time to go crazy with clothes! :) you don't have to have much money.. you just become ever more resourceful.. there's no other time to experiment really... so yeah i agree with her...

then she'll join the workforce and lose all her convictions.. but hey.. that happens to us all :D

c'est la vie..

LOL and worse .. she'll have to dress up to please her clients.... at least your patients don't expect you to slut it out for them .. :D

PS - will you restrict this post?

Dee said...

i kinda found it cool in ER (the TV show, not the ward) how the docs and nurses wore the scrubs and practical shoes, and they practically run and looks comfy too.

sue said...

I guess it's the way you look at the two. There is a reason for the dress code in the medical faculty. There is no reason behind dictating what to wear by the seniors and since they do so in order to harass someone, the attitude which it is taken is not going to be with pleasure right?

Jack Point said...

I remember reading somewhere that ragging was organised by political factions,the idea being to break the spirit of the students, teach obedience and thus a ready army of brainwashed students who will work for the JVP. (I think they were the main force behind the movement).

This is the end result of years of politicisation, the fruits, if you like, of 'independence'.

Serendib_Isle said...

Relativity, angel. Relativity.
I guess the concept of “orientation” has gone way too far in our Uni’s. Just like everything else in our wonderful isle. ;)

Anonymous said...

Never thought of it that way :) I HATE the saree. Cannot wear it without looking like a complete mess and have stumbled and nearly fallen on occasions that I have worn it. At one point it got so bad that I even thought of refusing an appointment at Colombo uni when they told me that lecturers are expected to wear sarees. Sanity prevailed but then on I took classes in the computer lab where the jeans and shirts rule.

Memories of the first saree day still haunt me :)

i think you are 100% correct on the
"projected image of competence and professionalism" that is one reason where the software industry is fantastic for those of who do not want to meet people.

Majority of the software companies have a casual dress code unless there are client meetings etc.

TSC said...

But Angel, I've seen a lot of medical students wearing tight jeans and skinnys to Uni??? =(
I was just saying to my mom how things seem to have changed a lot... and even the trainee doctors in hospitals walk about in tight tops and short skirts or three quarter pants...

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of doctors and medical students in SL that dress like absolute skanks. Complete with high heels and jeans and boob tops :)
It is highly likely that they are not in the same medical school as you were.

As for "competence and professionalism" the horror of using it in the same sentence as the word "doctors" !!!!
By the way this is the lot that I have encountered and is no way representative of the general population.

Need some new material on your blog angel. Starting to go to seed.