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Recently, the publicity for a women’s rights forum posted by the University Student Government (USG) in their social media instigated numerous backlash online. The poster contains the strict dress code reminders for those who wish to attend the activity, which ironically is a women empowerment forum. According to the USG, these strict rules are set in place in the pretext of promoting women empowerment and preventing sexual harassment. Since then, the debate online had made the rounds in different media outlets and enraged the Lasallian community eventually sparking the discussion on the abolition of the repressive dress code.

In this regard, so many students have spoken: these policies do not empower women. The provisions in the dress code have unfairly treated and targeted students, especially the women of DLSU. This is a mockery to the essence of the celebration of the International Women’s Month.

How can such publicity promote women empowerment when it reinforces and strengthens victim-blaming and justification of sexual harassment simply because of women’s clothing.
We are not what we wear. Our intellect, academic performance, and character cannot be measured by whatever we wear.

The DLSU Dress Code is oppressive as it paradoxically promotes the backward and oppressive macho-feudal culture born out of a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. Sexual harassment and the oppression of women is a systematic problem that continuously deprives them of their democratic rights. For as long as the current traditional structures promote aggression and subordination, women will continue to suffer double oppression from the crisis of the current economy and patriarchy. The emancipation of women would only come with the struggle to end all exploitation and abuse of every Filipino.

The USG should recall that it is a government of the students, by the students, and for the students. We challenge the council not to become a mere mouthpiece for the University administration, but rather an ally of the student body in fighting for democratic rights. Today, where even the president is a proponent of rape culture and violence against women and the cause of the continuous suffering of every Filipino, we challenge the USG to step up to the demands of its electorate. This is not a period where we can choose to be silent. The youth is challenged to take part in the affairs of our current society and not be enablers of the repressive policies in our state and in our university.

We must understand that this is not only an issue of fashion or clothing. The dress code is only a manifestation of the strict policies of the administration that is tantamount to the suppression of our freedoms. We must fortify our ranks and intensify our unity to show that we will fight all policies that impede us from exercising our rights. We must show the university administration that we had enough of their strict games and we are now ready to fight back.

The university character that the administration says it is protecting with the code is not seen on the length of our skirts or our compliance, but on the Lasallian spirit of excellence and service.

In line with this, we are inviting everyone to unite and join the Slipper Protest on April 3!

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