THE STUDENT Council of the Faculty of Arts and Letters (ABSC) wants the college administration to suspend the implementation of the so-called “hair policy” prohibiting long hair for males and “loud” hair color, amid opposition from students.

The ABSC requested for a consultation and suspension of the new policy in a letter to the Artlets Dean’s Office last Sept. 8, after meeting with representatives of the Board of Majors (BOM) on Sept. 1.

In a statement released on Facebook last Sept. 13, the ABSC said the choice of hairstyle and hair color did not affect students’ learning or obstruct other people’s rights.

“In fact, we believe that this could contribute to the holistic development of an individual,” the statement read.

The statement mentioned Artlets Dean Michael Anthony Vasco as saying during a meeting with council officers last Sept. 11 that he was supportive of freedom of expression in the college, with limits, and that he was open to a dialogue with those opposed to the policy.

“Dean Vasco was firm in his response that even freedom has its limitations. He believes that the Artlets’ freedom to wear different hairstyles and hair colors has been abused,” the ABSC said.

The ABSC also said Vasco would allow long hair for men “as long as they look neat.” For hair color, Vasco preferred “blonde, burgundy and brown,” the ABSC claimed.

Jan Dominic Castro, ABSC president, said the council would seek another dialogue with the college administration to know the reason behind the policy. “We want to uphold the liberality in AB as well as the freedom of expression of beliefs and personalities of the students,” Castro told the Varsitarian.

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The “Good Grooming Policy” of the University’s Code of Conduct and Discipline, contained in the UST Student Handbook, states that: “Unless otherwise allowed by the administrators of the particular Faculty/College/Institute School for specific reasons, male students are not allowed to sport long hair. Hair should not touch the collar of the uniform. The use of hairpins, pony tails, headbands, etc. by male students is likewise not allowed.” There is no mention of hair color.

Social media campaign

The groups Union of Journalists of the Philippines-UST and Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights-UST campaigned against the hair policy on social media early this month. The groups claimed that security guards had begun asking for the IDs of students deemed to have violated the grooming policy at the entrance of St. Raymund’s Building, and instructing the same students to claim their IDs at the Dean’s Office.

The social media campaign drew mixed reactions, with negative views mostly coming from alumni and outsiders.

Said Facebook user Dan Mendoza on the UJP-UST Facebook page: “I honestly don’t care whatever reason UST is getting strict on its hair policy. I’m not even from UST to begin with. But rules are rules. Lagi na lang ba gagamitin ang ‘freedom of expression’ para i-justify ang paglabag sa rules? Why do some people always have this sense of entitlement? Ganyan na ba talaga katigas ang ulo ng mga estudyanteng Pinoy? Freedom is not absolute.”

Said Randy Q. Villanueva: “Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, hordes of talented kids dream of going to college but cannot because they have no means. Instead, they are working themselves to the bone to help their parents in feeding their siblings. Offered the chance to study in UST, I doubt if they would be enraged by a hair policy. I’m not trying to be condescending. I’m just saying there are nobler things to fight for.”

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Facebook user Xave meanwhile commented: “To suggest that students must obey without questioning is to suggest that they cannot think for themselves. To suggest that these students who do question the status quo should just go and find another school is to suggest that the University is not a place of free thought.”

Said U.G. Naguit: “It is disappointing to see ‘educated’ citizens asserting their so-called ‘values’ and imposing their status quo mentality. It is even more disheartening to see ‘educated’ people shunning Thomasians merely for daring to question the sudden implementation of the haircut and hair color policy in the UST-Faculty of Arts and Letters.” Alhex Adrea M. Peralta

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