Uniforms are pointless: Here are 10 reasons why!

Published: October 14, 2013
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Uniforms do not, by any means, guarantee appropriate dressing.

This article is a response to the one posted earlier on The Express Tribune blogs which emphasised the importance of uniforms for university going students. As a university going student myself, not wearing a uniform in university is like a burden off my shoulders. This freedom represents the transition from being a young, troubled, carefree A Level student to becoming an actual grownup in university with the responsibility to dress in attire suitable for all situations.

Here are 10 reasons I feel uniforms should be done away with at the university level:

Wearing a uniform will not save money:

Wearing a uniform does not necessarily ensure that you will save money on clothes. After all, clothes are still a necessity and you cannot expect students to roam around naked or in uniform when they are not at university. Clothes will be purchased regardless of school/university requirements and might I add, regular clothes do in fact have more longevity than uniforms as they are suited to many more occasions.

Uniforms do not save time

It does not take a sane university going girl 40 minutes to get ready in the morning for university; this is a gross generalisation. As a university student, I can’t recall the last time I spent even 30 minutes getting ready for university.

Putting on a simple T-shirt and jeans in the morning does not require much effort and the whole process takes less than 10 minutes. You can save time in the morning by ensuring that your clothes are ironed the day before. Try it. I am sure it won’t take you 30 minutes either.

Besides that, there are many university going students who work part-time and do not have the time, energy or extra-fuel to go home, change out of their uniforms and run to work.

You are preparing students for the professional world, not another classroom.

Uniforms do not make you weight-conscious

I was in high school for two years and wore a uniform but never made an attempt to go to the gym and no one else in my friends circle did either. It is natural for every young adult to feel self-conscious about their weight but that only highlights the need for a proper diet and exercise. Uniforms do not in any way prevent a fat person from looking fat or a thin person from look skinny. If the person is conscious of such an issue, he/she will make the effort to go to the gym and maintain a healthy diet. If he/she is happy with the way they look, they won’t. Simple. It makes no sense to drag uniforms into the debate of fitness.

Those who stare will not stop just because you are wearing a uniform

The argument that males in a university are more likely to ogle at their female colleagues just because they aren’t wearing uniforms is a silly one. Males will ogle at you even when you are outside the university which does not mean that you stop stepping out of the house if you are not wearing a uniform.

Being in a uniform will not make people avert their gaze, unflattering as they might be. Those who are in habit of staring will stare regardless of what you are wearing. There is nothing you can do about it so why not dress in a way that pleases you and you alone?

Symbol of being a student

The first liberty you are taught to respect in university is your dress-code. It is the first step into adulthood and the teachers and students alike realise that in order to be treated like an adult you have to be put on the same platform. A student will not automatically start respecting a teacher just because he/she is not in a uniform. You cannot treat an adult student like a child and expect him/her to act like an adult.

Identity cannot be suppressed to just mean a logo on a uniform; it is your behaviour, your mannerism, your educational background that evidences the actual identity of a university- not a uniform. For those still in doubt about identity, we have ID cards.

Appropriate dressing

There have been instances in job interviews where students have shown up with loose ties and stains on their shirts. Teaching students to better present themselves in a public surrounding with elegance in their clothing and confidence in their posture will prove to be more useful in the long term for students. By inculcating the essence of appropriate dressing, universities will still be ensuring that students wear decent clothes. Students have to be prepared to face the real world, where there are no uniforms and differentiating one person from another will be based on a conversation and not the look of a person.

One other thing that I would like to add is that uniforms do not necessarily guarantee appropriate dressing. Students have been seen in many schools wearing a kameez shorter than one that is deemed appropriate or boys wearing their pants low enough for you to want to turn your eyes away in embarrassment. Uniforms do not, by any means, guarantee appropriate dressing.

Thailand statistics are not applicable to Pakistan

Just because university students in Thailand prefer uniforms does not mean that Pakistani students have the same opinion as well. In a country where unnecessary restriction of transport, public hangouts with the opposite gender etc are placed on students anyways, the mundane rule of wearing uniforms in university is just adding to the list that needs no expansion. This was seen when the NUST picture went viral and students from all over Pakistan protested and expressed their displeasure on the social media forums showing that students in Pakistan, already burdened with checks, are vehemently against supplementary restrictions that can easily be avoided.

Illicit affairs will continue, in uniform or not

This would play more as a concern regarding the ethics of the teacher/professor than the student. How can wearing a uniform prevent someone from indulging in an affair? The idea is ludicrous! If an affair is to happen, it will happen. Period.

Benefits to the ‘textile’ industry

The same labour working for a ‘uniform’ industry can still work for the textile industry. Buy more clothes instead of uniforms and you can still ensure that the industry is thriving.

Yes, there is harm

A university life is supposed to be an initiation in to adulthood, one that begins with doing away with a symbol of your childhood. School is over, this is real life and in real life you don’t wear uniforms. The harm is that if you promote uniforms at the university level you are conditioning the young-adult to a sheltered life, one that is not ready to see what the world has to offer. Students have to learn become comfortable in their own skin and not rely on a uniform to identify themselves to the world.

As a student I feel that the university life is a time when a student has the space and freedom to blossom into their own. It is a time to face responsibilities, develop individuality and personal values. University is a time when students have to concentrate on building their lives, not have irrelevant and illogical debates about whether to ‘enforce’ uniforms or not. You can’t ask a child to wear a professional suit to school and in the same way you cannot ask an adult to wear a uniform to university. Let’s concentrate on saving the world and making a name for ourselves and our country- debating about uniforms is a waste of time and energy.

Javeria Khalid Petiwala

Javeria Khalid Petiwala

A student based in Karachi, an ardent debater, and a Master Chef fan, she loves writing and travelling.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.