The administration of Obafemi Awolowo University, located in Ile-Ife, Osun State, has taken steps to clarify the confusion surrounding a trending circular that purportedly outlined a dress code for the university’s students.
In an interview with a correspondent on Monday, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Abiodun Olarewaju, affirmed that the viral circular did not originate from the university’s management. Although Olarewaju mentioned that the management was indeed considering the matter, he emphasized the university’s cautious approach to avoid any contentious measures.
The circulating circular, which gained attention on Sunday, described punitive actions for students found in violation of certain behavioral standards, including wearing “sexually provocative dresses, backless clothes, transparent attires, off-shoulder garments, bomb shorts,” and more. The circular also addressed behaviors such as “unwelcome touching, kissing, and hugging of the opposite sex, massaging, or sitting on the laps of the opposite sex,” with penalties that could lead to rustication for two semesters. Male students were warned against “hair plaiting or weaving,” among other things.
However, Olarewaju clarified, “The circular is not an official communication from the university administration. While we are indeed working on formulating guidelines for appropriate dressing, those responsible for the circular are engaging in mischievous behavior. They might be trying to gauge public opinion, including that of the students. Nevertheless, as a university, we uphold decency and will not permit any form of improper attire.”
Olarewaju reiterated that the university was in the process of developing a dress code policy. He added, “We are actively engaged in this process, but we want to ensure that our approach is respectful and considerate of everyone’s perspective.”
Since Sunday, both current students and alumni of the university have expressed their disapproval of the alleged initiative to regulate dressing on campus. A group of students and alumni convened to discuss the issue, with many expressing their opposition to the proposal.
The Students’ Union leadership of the university also voiced its dissent, stating that the proposed dress code infringed upon students’ freedom of expression. In a joint statement by the President, Secretary-General, and the PRO of the union—Abbas Ojo, Opeyemi Akinboni, and Omisore Elijah, respectively—the union rejected the notion of a dress code and deemed it regressive and unconstructive.
Confirming the reception of a memo from the university, the Secretary-General, Akinboni, underscored the union’s stance. The memo, dated August 8, 2023, and titled “Review of the Code of Conduct for the University Community and Other Policies in the University,” requested feedback from the students’ union and staff unions, with copies directed to the Directorate of Legal Services of the university.