Wearing shorts and slippers to school a sign of disrespect

From ‘Issue of respect over comfort’, 30 Dec 2017, ST Forum

(Tan Lin Neo): A proper dress code for university students should be implemented and strictly enforced (Implement dress code for university students, by Mr Pavithran Vidyadharan; Dec 28).

I often see students going to campus dressed sloppily in T-shirts, shorts and slippers, as if they had just come out of their bedrooms. I am astounded that they dress like that to go to a place where they attain knowledge and prepare themselves to enter the workforce.

It is wrong to say that dress codes do not determine one’s ability to study, learn and acquire knowledge. Adhering to a proper dress code shows respect to the institution of higher learning and to the lecturers who, themselves, dress appropriately to impart knowledge to their students.

It is also a way to teach students to dress appropriately for the occasion and environment. How you dress influences your own bearing.

Discipline and respect are the core issues here, and are more important than the need for comfort while attending lectures.

Our universities are ranked among the top in the world and we didn’t get there by wasting resources chastising students for dressing like bums. In 1972, a NUS lecturer, sickened by a generation of ‘flip-flopping’ students, said this reflected ‘loose manners’ and an ‘erring sense of values’. Almost half a century later, in an age where the most successful people in the world are drop-out geniuses in hoodies, there are people who still subscribe to the antiquated convention that dressing well correlates with one’s moral worth and success, just like how stabbing peas with a steak knife is a telltale sign that you’re a fucking psychopath.

You could attend class all dapper but still end up getting caught cheating during your exams. And that applies to lecturers faking data or plagiarising for their publications too. Give our young people some credit. The majority are sensible adults who should already be familiar with unspoken rules when blending into society. No one in their right mind would stride into the lecture theatre in pyjamas using their iPad as a tray for a sandwich and kopi-o. If some weirdo creative type wants to stand out in suspenders and a sunflower bowtie then so be it. After all, once you’re done with university you either spend the rest of your working life as a corporate drone emulating the Wolf of Wall Street having to iron 5 damn shirts a week, or screw this socialist conformity shit and become a hawker, selling hipster mixed economic rice in an old army singlet and slippers. Either way, at that age assholes will remain assholes, whatever dress code we impose in uni. These are not kids who run crying home to Mommy and promise to turn over a new leaf whenever they get a tongue lashing from the dean for dressing like beggars or sluts.

One could argue conversely that it’s not our temples of learning that have succeeded on the world stage in spite of our student’s liberal dressing, but maybe BECAUSE of it. Because it made learning more conducive in this chronically hot weather, that it imbued students with a sense of empowerment and identity, that it allowed students to focus on academic work than being oppressed by an ascetic dress code taken out of a Good Behaviour Manual for monks and nuns in a monastery. The analogy that our students look like they just stepped out of their ‘bedrooms’ is also ironically apt. Aren’t we all encouraged to dream, after all?




They had all bought a beverage from Starbucks

From ‘Courtesy and the Starbucks syndrome’, 27 Dec 2010, ST Forum

(Virdi Bhupinder): AFTER watching a movie at the The Cathay Cineplex recently, my family and I wanted to grab a quick coffee at Starbucks.

However, the tables were occupied by teenagers with open laptops, chatting away loudly; some had their feet settled on the sofas and had literally ‘dug in’ for long sessions of free surfing.

After I had waited for about 10 minutes, I asked the manager if she could request a few teenagers to make way for other customers.

Her reply was that she could not because they had all bought a beverage from Starbucks.

It was a strange reply to me as I do not think that buying a single drink entitles a customer to park himself at an outlet for hours and deprive others of a seat.

…Food and beverage outlets like Starbucks should stop this system, where a customer need buy only one drink and he can stay as long as he likes, and adopt a policy that is reasonable and shows consideration to all customers.

Perhaps limit free wi-fi to half an hour of surfing by issuing a time-limit coupon when customers buy drinks. Or install a sign stating that those studying or hogging tables should show consideration to other customers.

Such behaviour also suggests an innate lack of graciousness, which as a society we should try to change.

If the writer intended to have a ‘quick coffee’, perhaps instead of hanging around for 10 minutes urging the management to chase regular customers away (even if they only bought 1 drink), there’s another system in place which he/she may consider commonly known as the ‘take-away’. Coffeehouses are not hawker centres. The whole marketing concept, the air-con comfort, the interior decor, the piped music, are all designed specifically to sustain long periods of not just studying over a freshly brewed cuppa but also idle chatter, first dates and informal business meetings, and it applies not just here but anywhere else in the world where people are conned into buying coffee that costs as much as  a McDonald’s Value Meal. The success of Starbucks strives on it, and either this writer is new to the whole coffeehouse concept, or is the sort who looms over occupied tables at kopitiams watch-gazing and foot-tapping patrons into submission.

Surely it’s unfair to blame students for hogging seats when others are doing likewise, be it playing with their iPhones, reading a thick novel from start to finish, or trying to sell insurance plans whilst doping clients with caffeine, which the writer does not notice simply because they make less noise than the kids. It’s also unfair to extrapolate such behaviour to society in general, and as an advocate for a gracious society, one should also exercise the virtues of patience and tolerance, but more importantly the economy of common sense to get around the ‘system’ and go somewhere else (perhaps another Starbucks 100m away) if you don’t like what you see instead of telling a giant coffee conglomerate how to run a business just because you can’t have things your way. Other than Starbucks, studying, even in the early 70’s,  has never been well received in libraries as well,  as seen in this 16 October 1973 article ‘Students occupy all the seats in the library’ below. Which suggests, that for close to 40 years, study rooms in Singaporean homes have been used for every other purpose than actual studying.


Teachers confiscate tight trousers

From ‘Too much fuss over school uniform?’ 11 Oct 2010, ST Forum online

(Jeryln Tan):…I would like to highlight one practice (of Ngee Ann Secondary school) which I do not quite agree with: confiscation of students’ trousers when teachers find them to be too tight or too loose.

…Is it reasonable for teachers to confiscate trousers and keep them for months?

It is natural for boys who are still in their puberty to grow out of what they wear. Parents would rather not spend money buying new pairs again and again for the growing boys. This is especially so with families that are not well-to-do.

It is also usual for parents to buy two pairs at a time, or maximum three. With the teachers confiscating and keeping the trousers for months, there are not enough pairs to go around in the school week.

Being a co-ed school, or more importantly, a school with frustrated male teachers, it’s probably reasonable to frown upon tight trousers wrapped around small adolescent butts, but other than confiscation, how else would a teacher coax a student into wearing properly fitted attire given there’s no real safety hazard associated with loose trousers unless they droop down to the ankles and cause stumbling down stairwell fatalities, or with tight trousers unless they trigger paediatric haemorrhoids? How about some kind of exchange program among different sized boys (ideally a fat boy whose trousers are too tight and a skinny boy whose trousers are too loose) instead of letting confiscated, unused pants go unworn, for months, as the writer claims? How about belts? Absurd really, when the possible violations incurred by bringing an iPhone to school (playing with apps in class, voyeur cams in toilet, cheating) far outweigh the school-crest tarnishing image of boys (most of them reluctantly I presume) wearing tight trousers. Then there’s the practical question of what do the boys wear in the interim, since they have to wear something before handing over their trousers to the confiscating teacher, don’t they? Let us imagine a boy with two pairs of trousers too tight for his own good. Let us assume, for sake of argument, that the teacher confiscates one pair and gives the boy a week to buy new trousers. In the course of that week, the boy will be re-using the same pair of tight trousers and gets a fungal infection of the groin. What happens then?

It’s also against school rules to wear long pants if you don’t deserve them too, as seen in this 5 Feb 1975 article ‘Student who wore long pants suspended’. I believe kids are smart enough to know that wearing long pants in a bid to impersonate a senior, and hence gaining a fast track out of secondary school, just doesn’t work. Unless of course, teachers are too busy confiscating things or scrutinising curvature-revealing attire to tell the difference.