College Guide


December 17, 2012 10:00 AM A College Employee Uniform?

By Daniel Luzer


Students at the University of Toledo object to a new university policy that requires employees, including students with campus jobs, to wear uniforms while at work.

According to an article by Federico Martinez in the Toledo Blade:

A new dress code for some University of Toledo student employees has prompted an unexpected backlash from some unhappy students who say the required uniform will be inconvenient and take away students’ ability to express their “individuality.”
The new dress code, which goes into effect in January, will require students to wear khaki pants and a navy blue polo shirt with the school emblem.

Toledo Dean of Students Michele Martinez apparently explained that “the purpose is to raise the level of professionalism of all employees, including students.”

The college plans to spend $2,800 to buy 280 shirts for staff.

“What they’ve told us is that the dress code will help prepare us for the future — yes, if we’re going to become a cashier at McDonald’s, or help people buy sneakers,” said math tutor Joe Ozbolt, who apparently will not really be required to wear the Toledo uniform.

I’m sort of confused as to why the University of Toledo makes any of its employees wear uniforms. They say it promotes “professionalism” but in fact it promotes the very opposite of professionalism. Professional jobs don’t require uniforms; in general only low wage jobs require such humiliating things.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 17, 2012 11:36 AM:

    Professional jobs donít require uniforms; in general only low wage jobs require such humiliating things.

    Well, tut tut, Daniel. We're awfully elitist today.

    But I agree, uniforms should be for middle/high-school aged kids, not for adult college students. In certain environments a uniform could inadvertently send a not-so-flattering message to clientele: Lowly, and perhaps incompetent, student worker. Feel free to go over his/her head to a "real" employee who knows what he's talking about.

    I had a few on-campus jobs: one required an employee t-shirt and the others didn't. The uniform did help to identify me as an employee in the gym facilities which was typically overcrowded with students anyway. The other jobs were in offices, so I eventually started dressing well enough that many people didn't even realize that I was just a student. And learning to dress for a professional job is a skill that takes time to hone (i.e. just because Vogue says you can where a mini skirt and stilettos to work doesn't mean it's actually a good idea...).

  • Snarki, child of Loki on December 17, 2012 1:39 PM:

    But faculty at Oxford and Cambridge are REQUIRED to wear traditional academic gowns when dining in their Commons. For centuries!

    A remnant still exists today in the US, with the gowns worn in graduation ceremonies.

    The difference? It is a symbol of confraternity and respect. The U Toledo uniforms are symbols of subjugation and disrespect.