Can a University Ban Dreadlocks or Other Hairstyles?

Barry Lenson

Can a University Ban Dreadlocks or Other Hairstyles?

Can a University Ban Dreadlocks or Other Hairstyles?  “HU business school dean stands by dreadlocks, cornrows ban,” a recent article posted on WVEC’s news page, reports that the business school at Hampton University in Virginia is taking some heat from students who are demanding to wear their hair any way they want.

The issue? The article reports that since 2001, the business school has not allowed students who are enrolled in its five-year MBA program to wear cornrows or deadlocks. To be more specific, male students enrolled in the MBA program cannot wear dreadlocks or cornrows in class. So we have kind of double discrimination taking place here – apparently it is okay for women to wear dreads or cornrows, but not men. Sid Credle, the Dean of the business school, has stated that the ban has helped his students land corporate jobs after they graduate.

I don’t know what you think about the ban. But I think it is pretty ill-advised. It reminds me of the recent ban in France, in which female students were barred from wearing traditional Muslim garb.

If a school can ban dreadlocks and cornrows, can it also ban tattoos, multiple earrings, and other fashions that it deems unbusinesslike?

And another thing.  Just last week I was near Wall Street in New York City where I saw a young African-American man on the street who was elegantly dressed in a suit and expensive dress shoes. He was also carrying a leather attaché case that had obviously cost him more than a few dollars. And . . . you guessed it . . . he had long, very well-maintained dreadlocks that spilled over his white collar and reached the middle of his back.

Unbusinesslike? No way!

I think we live in a time when hiring companies care a lot more about what is in your head than what is on it. Don’t you agree? Please take a minute to let us know by posting a comment.

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