Hardly a day after the goons of Islami Jamiat Tuleba (IJT) beat a male student for sitting with a girl in one of the cafeterias in Punjab University, the Institute of Business and Management (IBM) of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) came up with a notification regarding dress code in the premises of the institution. It seems that the administration of UET institute felt the need to catch up with the regressive thinking of IJT and wanted to contribute to the cause of moral policing.

The rigid dress code that IBM wants the female students to follow reminds one of the decrees of the Spanish Inquisitions. The orders of Spanish Inquisition ruptured the culture of Spain and rooted out plurality that Spain was once known for. This notification of IBM will further shrink the number of liberties that students have left within academic settings.

The underlying rationale behind various kinds of freedoms granted to the students in universities is to train them for practical life. Universities operate differently than schools. The students in universities are adults. They can decide for themselves between right and wrong. Universities are places where authorities should encourage freethinking and debate.

Unfortunately, instead of doing what the authorities should ideally be doing, the administration, in reality, is keen on directing students what to wear and what not to. However, if the administration of any university instead of performing their duties focus more on the length of one’s jeans or skirt, that speaks volume about the quality of education they impart to their students.

While the authorities claimed that the notification was issued to teach the students how to dress formally, the gendered flavour of the ban reveals the ulterior motives of the administration, i.e., moral policing of the female student body through enforcing a dress code.

Nevertheless, IBM is not the first educational institution trying to police students. There is a long list of academic institutions, which believe that students’ dressing is the issue of utmost importance, when in reality, lack of research, plagiarism, absence of critical thinking, hatred for pluralism, abhorrence for inquisitorial minds, and sub-standard pedagogical techniques are the problems that need the intervention of the universities’ administrations on urgent basis.

Instructions to follow a particular dress code and the imposition of penalties in case of violation cannot ensure maintenance of academic dignity and sanctity of institutions. However, the structural issues mentioned earlier if addressed can help in maintaining academic dignity and standards.