A question about university dress codes reminded me of an incident that happened when I was an undergrad, in which a classmate came to school wearing a really offensive and misogynistic t-shirt.
I was extremely uncomfortable, especially since this was an engineering program and I was one of only three or four female students in a class of about fifty. I had another class with the same student later that day and he was still wearing the shirt. I remember wishing at the time that a faculty member or someone with more authority than me would do something about it.
So, my question is as follows:
- Should a professor intervene if a student in their class is wearing clothing that is likely to be offensive and hostile to other students? If so, how?
- If yes: are there any scenarios in which a professor should not do anything even though a student's clothes contains material that is hostile towards another student or group of students?
- If I come across this scenario as a TA, in which a student (who may be a peer in my program of study) in my class is wearing something offensive, what can I do about it? I don't feel comfortable (or safe, for that matter) as a woman confronting a male student about an item of clothing that is offensive to women. On the other hand, I feel like it is my responsibility to keep a non-hostile environment in my classroom.
Discriminatory harassment is forbidden by the university's code of conduct and includes: placing written or graphic material which demeans or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability.
The item of clothing in question contained a slogan and image that is indubitably demeaning and hostile towards women.