I see students wear slippers to university, I cannot take it, must write Straits Times forum letter

Slipper-y slope.

Guan Zhen Tan | December 28, 2017 @ 10:17 pm


In this latest instalment of “I cannot take it, I must write forum letter” series, one Straits Times forum letter writer has joined the heated debate regarding dress codes for university students.

It’s not an entirely new debate.

Every now and then, the topic of proper dressing by tertiary students surfaces, igniting plenty of comments and opinions.

And of course, it starts with a disgruntled Singaporean cracking a couple of knuckles to pen some thoughts in a missive to the national newspaper, The Straits Times.

Here’s the letter in full.

Implement dress code for university students

I have noticed tertiary students here – male and female alike – attending lectures and tutorial classes wearing slippers, shorts and T-shirts.

This does not seem like an appropriate way to dress.

Institutes of tertiary education are places to acquire knowledge.

Students should respect the sanctity of these places and not treat them like food courts or hawker centres, where there are no restrictions on how one dresses.

I am sure their lecturers and tutors have to adhere to a dress code and dress appropriately when carrying out their professional duties.

We do not see our MPs and ministers wearing slippers, shorts and T-shirts in Parliament.

Even some restaurants have a dress code which guests must follow.

It is about time that the authorities, especially in our universities, introduced some form of dress code for all tertiary students to follow.

If there already is a dress code, then stern action should be taken to enforce it, as it is not being adhered to.

I am not suggesting that tertiary students wear a uniform.

Shoes instead of slippers, trousers instead of shorts, and shirts with sleeves would be ideal.

By implementing a dress code, we would be demonstrating to the world that we are a disciplined society.

Pavithran Vidyadharan


Naturally, this incited a lot of reaction from the people — a good number disagreeing with his statement, saying that dress code has nothing to do with one’s best behaviour or respect for the institution.

Others, however, agreed that it was a poor show of character, and basic respect and dressing should be adhered to.

Some also responded with their own clapbacks.

Shoe good, slipper bad?

So far, we see the following arguments being presented, such as university being a prep for workplace demands, basic respect for and courtesy to the apparent sanctity of the school.

And they all come from places of good intentions. Dressing smart may indeed help inculcate students with good habits that they can carry forward into the workplace.

However, assuming that wearing anything less than a proper pair of shoes or looking a little bit too casual would automatically mean no respect for the institution is a bit far-fetched, if students indeed try to fulfill their responsibilities as a student well.

At least, in theory, an engaged, enthusiastic student in slippers and berms is going to be better than someone fulfilling the dress code but not engaging with the course — echoing the point of the university being to acquire knowledge rather than to fit a dress code.

Furthermore, who is to say or assume that these students won’t be able to code-switch once they go into the workplace?

Regardless, it’s safe to say that a dress code is the last thing a university student wants to worry about, especially on those double-submission days where one’s brain is barely its Sunday-best, much less having the desire to dress up.

About Guan Zhen Tan

Guan Zhen misses a time when the McDonald's at White Sands had two floors. If not listening to visual kei bands and doodling, she's probably thinking about how Ra is rowing his sun boat into the darkness of the night.

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