Harding changed dress-code policies regarding hair length for men and nose rings for women this fall. Men are now allowed to have shoulder-length hair and women permitted to have nose rings as well as studs.
According to Zach Neal, dean of students, policies are reviewed by the Office of Student Life every year. If policies are adjusted, they are done while remaining consistent with Harding’s mission. Though the phrase “off the collar” concerning the length of men’s hair was removed from this year’s student handbook, the expectation of neatness and cleanliness remains.
“There were some questions related to hairstyles. Some hairstyles require longer length than others and so it was something that could be evaluated … and it seemed like a good time to be able to change that policy,” Neal said. “I definitely think hairstyles and hair length are generational and cultural, and it is something related to the dress code that is in response to communication from students and supported by faculty.”
Senior Josiah Abney learned of the new policies after his friends in the Student Association notified him of the change over the summer. Abney said he was pleased with the new wording of the rule that offers a vague interpretation, allowing both the students and administration a little bit of breathing room.
“I’m at peace with the new rule,” Abney said. “I’m not worried about being called in to the deans about something as unimportant as the length of my hair … Students now don’t have to bother putting their hair up every day, and administration can still call students in who have hair that obviously goes beyond what the hair rule seeks to enforce.”
In addition, a change was also made to the section on acceptable piercings for women that now allows women to wear nose rings instead of just a small stud. Sophomore Ashton Castle said that she would often wear a ring last year despite the rule against them, and she felt many other students did as well.
“It was always kind of like, ‘oh no, will today be the day that someone tells me I have to take it out?’” Castle said. “I think the idea that we could have studs but not rings was weird just because there are some studs that are just as noticeable as a ring could be.”
Although students seem to be pleased with the recent changes in the dress code policy, Abney said some students still hope that more changes will be made in the future. According to Neal, the hair and nose ring policies were rewritten because they were the two sections of the handbook that were emphasized most by students in the last few years. The Office of Student Life will revisit the policies next year.
“I have only received positive feedback regarding the change,” Neal said. “We will continue our practice of listening to students and evaluating all policies on a regular basis.”
For more information on dress code policy changes this school year, see Section 7, ‘Modest and Appropriate Dress’ on pages 20-21 of the Student Handbook 2017-2018.