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Restoring dignity? Five Kenyan Universities ban mini-skirts, crop tops

In recent years, higher learning institutions in Kenya have taken steps to enforce stricter dress codes among their students.

These measures, aimed at promoting professionalism and upholding traditional values, have sparked debates regarding individual expression and institutional regulations.

While others disagree with the new regulations, others support it saying it helps restore dignity in our learning institutions.

Below are some of the Universities that have banned certain dress codes:

Moi University

On February 7, 2023, Moi University issued a new regulation banning students from wearing several popular outfits while on campus.

In an internal memo, the university urged students to dress decently and issued strict regulations against dressing that the institution deemed unofficial.

“I wish to bring to your attention the rules and regulations governing the conduct and discipline of students. The students are expected to dress decently in modest and appropriate attire. However, we have observed and noted with concern the indecent dressing by some of you,” the memo signed by Dr Alice Mutai, the Dean of Students read in part.

The memo went on to say that it was unofficial to wear miniskirts, skin-tight trousers, ‘ragged’ or torn jeans, ‘tumbo-cut’ blouses and shirts, low-cut blouses and dresses, micro shorts, and see-through dresses.

In addition, clothes showing bra straps or sleeveless T-shirts, clothes with obscene inscriptions, sagging trousers, and all plastic shoes were listed by the university as unofficial clothing.

Masinde Muliro University (MMUST)

In September last year, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) banned students from wearing plastic shoes, slippers, crocs, mini skirts and ragged jeans among other ‘indecent wear’ terming them unofficial.

The institution cautioned students against what it termed as indecent dressing while at the institution.

Mount Kenya University (MKU)

In July 2019, Mt Kenya University Associate Dean of Students Martin Muiruri warned that persons dressed in clothes/pants revealing private body parts would be denied access to the learning premises until they are decently dressed.

“The student’s handbook article 15.0 (page 20) stipulates the dress code expected for students as follows: students are expected to dress decently and as per requirements in line with their training, the faculty ethics as well as in keeping with societal norms and expectations,” the memo adds.

Muiruri says male students should have well-groomed hair while female students should not wear see-through clothes, bare-backs/belly from waist to neck, or low breast cleavage or micro-minis.

Methodist University

In January 2023, The Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) dean of students Esther Mbaabu noted that female students were prohibited from wearing tumbo cuts (popularly known as crop tops) and clothes that exposed their backs.

Mbaabu also noted that any female student caught wearing miniskirts ( any skirt above the knee line), skirts with slits above the knee line, see-through clothes, and body-tight trousers would be breaking the code of conduct.

“The dean of Students wishes to encourage all students to adopt a style of dressing and appearance that would be acceptable in various fields of work and society in general,” the memo reads.

Male students on the other hand were not allowed to have dreadlocks, earrings, and plaited hair.

Daystar University

In October 2023, Daystar University banned students from wearing crocs and slippers within the school compound.

In an internal memo, the learning institution asked learners to familiarise themselves with Section 3.3 of the Student Handbook.

The varsity management also said that it had noted with concern the increasing violation of the dress code.

“Our appearance communicates a lot about who we are. Yes, appearance matters, whether we like it or not, it can influence how others perceive us and can affect our confidence and self-esteem,” the memo read in part.

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