Oh, So There’s a Dress Code?

The other day I saw one of my friends in Bates wearing a scarf and dressy shorts. This was out of character for him because he usually only wears t-shirts, gym shorts, and sneakers. I asked him what was up, and he told me that he felt uncomfortable at school because of the way people perceived him.

For the past couple of months, he was outed from social groups and openly criticized because he dressed like a “jock”.

“It’s really awful,” he told me. “Sometimes I just like to carry around a football and toss it with someone when I have some free time…but then I hear people under their breath say to one another, ‘What is he doing at this school? I can’t believe they’d let someone like that in. We don’t want that here.'”

I find it disconcerting that we parade Sarah Lawrence to be a “safe space” for expression, and in turn ostracize people who have interests such as sports, or anything else that seems widely-celebrated on other college campuses. We go to a school that discriminates against people who do not fit the “Sarah Lawrence Weird” criterion, whatever that may be.
“I just try to make conversation and then I get a no-contact request filed against me,” he said. “People assume that because of how I dress, I want something other than to just get to know people. No one knows that I love theater or recognize that maybe I came here so I could avoid some of those “jock stereotypes” that might be true on other campuses or in the media”.

In high school people made fun of me for reading so many books. I was never invited to parties or to hang out and do homework at friend’s houses. It’s never fun to be left out and made fun of, so I looked forward to college because I hoped that the mentality would change, and maybe people would grow up and accept each other.

But instead, I see that SLC students are being just as cruel and intolerant as the rest of the world is to us. Going to Sarah Lawrence is about accepting people for who they are, not to openly hurt and ostracize groups we are unfamiliar with.

We all hear the stories about kids getting being beaten up and spit on for being gay, different, etc. That does not give us permission, despite how we feel, to treat anyone like that, even if they like basketball and beer.

We all go to the same school, we all have a shit-ton of work to do, so let’s bond over the academic rigor instead of practicing prejudice. Let’s bond over the fact that we are all incredibly different.


  • Reply October 23, 2013

    Audrey Irving

    But no, though. Are there classist attitudes and privilege on this campus, snobbery, and pretentiousness? Oh hell yes, definitely. We should talk about that. But Sarah Lawrence is trying to be way too many things to too many people right now. A “safe space”, as it is created for people who feel UNSAFE in the wider society we are all located in, does not need to coddle and comfort “jocks” and other stereotypes of men who exist very, very safely everywhere else. Inclusion is a good thing, emotional safety is a good thing, and I don’t hold it against the individual men admitted here or the individual athletes. It’s not about who deserves to be here – it’s about who are we prioritizing to be here, as an institution, and recognizing how individuals signify these priorities very visibly. I will not apologize for being openly vocal about my discomfort about the increased “jock” presence on this campus this year and that WILL NEVER be the same thing as discrimination for queerness, race, etc. This article’s tone is steering way too close to arguments for reverse-racism and reverse-sexism (I’ll give you the short answer: no) and I don’t think we’re looking critically enough at the multiple contexts and nuances at play here.

    • Reply December 12, 2013


      I have to disagree Audrey, but first I want to offer a little context about the position I am speaking from: I have been a female athlete at this school since my freshman year. (No, I did not get in because I play a sport. No, my financial aid does not depend on it. No, I do not get special treatment from professors.)
      This year in particular it has been made abundantly clear that people who appear to be of a certain societal stereotype are not welcome here. But who are we to judge someone based on how they appear? Just because someone likes to toss a football with friends on occasion doesn’t mean that they are an ‘asshole jock’ who beat up kids in high school. Coming from a campus athlete who can easily pass as a “non jock”, I can’t help but feel terrible for people who are being criticized and ostracized for the fact that they enjoy playing sports (which, by the way, I don’t see as being very different from people who like playing music or making art). Even I, a “non jock” jock, have been told to my face that I don’t belong here – that Sarah Lawrence isn’t for me and that my athleticism is a degradation to the institution as a whole. The fact that I participate in sports does not define me. That does not dictate my entire identity. That does not make me less of a Sarah Lawrence student. That does not mean that I should be stigmatized and punished for injustices perpetrated by “asshole jocks” a world away (or at least, back at people’s high schools). Why CAN’T Sarah Lawrence be a safe place for everyone who comes here to learn from both our brilliant faculty and our ever-impressive peers? How can we dare to set a limit on who we are willing to defend or tolerate? I am here because I thought that this place was different: That people could love whatever they wanted, be whoever they choose, and express themselves freely, so long as they do not do harm to others. If there is a list of identity groups that “real Sarah Lawrence Students” are allowed to subscribe to, could someone please provide me with it? I want to make sure that I fit the bill.

Leave a Reply