An Arkadelphia, Arkansas college is now the center of local controversy due to a seemingly offensive directive that many students feel is a form of racism. According to the Daily Caller, Henderson State University officials are making it known that saggy pants will not be tolerated around campus this school year.
Although the controversial order is not an official rule that has been implemented to the public university’s guidelines, students were met with quite a surprise when they arrived for the 2015 fall semester. It has been reported that a number of signs have been posted around campus, warning students of possible consequences for saggy pants. Now, an overwhelming number of students are arguing that the directive is racist.
According to KATV, students are questioning the reason behind the university’s decision to ban saggy pants and many are outraged. “It’s politically insensitive to certain groups. They felt like they were being targeted,” said Kristin Bell, an upperclassman at the university.
However, the university argues otherwise. Tonya Smith, a university spokeswoman, insists the signs were posted due to a gradual increase of complaints and concerns about students’ attire. The publication also reports that the university insists the crackdown on saggy pants is a way to hold students to a “higher expectation.”
“Posting the signs was a response to increasing concerns expressed over the past year by students, faculty, staff, and community members about appropriate behavior across our campus, both in and out of the classroom,” Smith said. “Our faculty, in particular, had experienced an increase in inappropriate classroom behaviors that were disturbing the learning environment.”
Will Creeley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has also shared his opinion of Smith’s statement defending the university. “Absent some kind of showing that sagging pants could somehow disrupt the educational environment in a clearly, truly unreasonable way, which is hard to fathom, this is a blatant overreach by the administration,” Creeley told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s dismaying that a public institution of higher education wants to treat their students as if they are in grade school.”
Due to the overwhelmingly negative response to the signs, Dr. Lewis A. Shepherd, Jr., Vice President of Student and External Affairs, has released a brief statement of apology for the whole debacle. “We certainly want to apologize for any misunderstanding or miscommunication, but there was not a particular group or individual that was targeted,” Dr. Shepherd said.
Although the most recent pant-sagging ordeal has sparked quite a debate, this definitely isn’t the first time the banning has been proposed. As previously reported on the Inquisitr, select cities in Louisiana and Florida also have ordinances in place restricting individuals from wearing saggy pants.
Do you believe banning saggy pants is a racist gesture? Share your thoughts.
[Image via HBCU Buzz]