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Belhaven University Music Studio Class Dress Code Change

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Last Friday, January 19th, 2018, the Belhaven University Music Department informed the student body of Music Studio Class (MSC) that the dress code (in full below) would now be enforced. Students would now be immediately denied permission to perform if their dress did not meet the standards of the department. Learning to dress professionally in a performance field is an incredibly valuable skill for the students of the Music Studio Class. This dress code, however, crossed the line from reinforcing professional dress standards to enforcing a moral one—implying that to be a Christian performing artist one must reach a certain level of moralistic modesty to be considered legitimate enough to perform on the Belhaven stage.

This dress code was neither well known nor well enforced prior to this extreme and final statement, leaving the student body stunned and frustrated. If the Department Faculty had issued a warning/reminder of said dress code and stated that if the code was not followed there would be stronger consequences, allowing time for students to adjust and correct themselves, perhaps this petition would not be necessary.


"The concert stage is our workplace. Appropriate dress is important! For performances in Juries and MSC, suggested attire for men is dress slacks and a shirt, and for women, a mid-calf or longer dress or skirt and blouse. Pants may be worn, but avoid jeans, leggings, or spandex. Dresses and blouses should have sleeves or the performer must wear a sweater, shrug or jacket having sleeves. Low necklines will need another garment underneath. Ensemble dress is all black, including socks or hose, and hemlines must be at least to mid-calf with appropriate necklines. Junior and Senior recitals are formal concerts and require more formal attire. Check with your teacher for suggestions, especially regarding footwear. Students violating dress guidelines will be denied permission to perform by music faculty."

-Belhaven University Music Department Board


This Petition Hopes To:


1.       State Concerns with said Dress Code

2.       Present Options for Revision of the Dress Code and/or Suggestions of Replacement.


Concerns Over Dress Code:

·       The restrictions on men and women are made with 2 different objectives in mind: the men are to look professional, the women are to look modest--or as it was said, less "distracting." This difference is both objectifying and misogynistic. Professionalism and modesty should not be gendered.

·       As students at a Christian school we are submitting ourselves to the judgement of those in authority above us. The Christian Worldview plays a large part in the choices those authorities make. We are grateful for this, until the personal worldview of faculty and staff begins dictating what is or is not "good Christian behavior." College is a time of learning our limits before we enter the professional world, we cannot make those choices for ourselves if we are not given the opportunity.

·       Modesty is on a spectrum. What is comfortable and appropriate for one person is stifling and limiting for another. Furthermore, women's bodies, as well as men's, are unique and the diversity within the department is beautiful. Height, size, and proportion can vastly affect the "appropriateness" of an article of clothing.



Revisions/Amendments for Dress Code:


Warning/Grace Period: We suggest that students may be given *one* warning about inappropriate attire before being reprimanded/banned from performing on the particular day. If the Music Dept. cannot allow this, we suggest a Grace Period of this spring semester, 2018, where the penalty is waived so as to allow students to perform if they are currently financially or otherwise unable to purchase appropriate attire.

Privacy: We offer to the Music Dept. that all Dress Code violations be dealt with as privately as possible. The reprimanding of students, particularly female students, over inappropriate dress in public is both objectifying and shaming. For any intervention on the appropriateness of dress with a student, two faculty members must be present, female faculty with female students, male faculty with male students.

Equal Standards for Men and Women: We wish that instead of the previously mentioned unequal standards stated in the Dress Code and in the statement made about the code, that both genders could have the same standard of modesty and professionalism. Men and women must be required to consider the fit and formality of their dress to reach the accepted level of professionalism.

Practicality: We suggest that the board consider the professional standard of 2018--and the spectrum of what is considered appropriate attire within that standard. We offer that the Music Dept.

             a.) allow knee-length skirts/dresses; or if that cannot be allowed, knee-length skirts/dresses with tights. If knee-length skirts with bare-legs are allowed, a line of spike tape could be placed on the stage so as to mark a "do not cross" line to protect the performer and audience from indecency. For instrumentalists who sit for performances, common sense must be applied—i.e. longer hems or pants to ensure decency.       

              b.) although strapless dresses, may not be appropriate, sleeveless dresses, requiring that all bra straps are securely covered with appropriately thick straps.                                                              

               c.) V-necklines are allowed as long as they do not exceed 2-3" below the collarbone. Women must only wear a cami or other undergarment under if the neckline it exceeds 2-3" or if gaping becomes a problem.         

               d.) Junior and Senior Recital attire may work outside of these guidelines, as long as the student consults a faculty member to ensure professionalism.


For the Consideration of the Music Department Board*:

            The concert stage in our workplace. Appropriate dress is important! For performances in Juries and MSC, suggested attire for men is dress slacks and a shirt, be aware of the fit of these pieces, ill-fitting shirts and slacks lack professionalism. Women must dress respectfully. Respecting themselves and the audience. Dresses, skirts, and pants are allowed, with blouses, sweaters, shrugs, and jackets. Fit and formality must be considered when choosing performance attire. Ensemble dress is all black, including socks or hose. Junior and Senior recitals are formal concerts and require more formal attire which should be consulted on with a faculty member working directly with the student. Check with your teacher for suggestions, especially regarding footwear. Students violating dress guidelines will have one warning before being denied permission to perform by music faculty.


*Italics signify amended portions of original dress code


The student members of the Music Department and associated departments thank the Music Department for its consideration and their ongoing support of our personal and spiritual betterment.

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