The University of Zambia management has asked female students to stop going to the library “half naked” saying this is a distraction to their male colleagues.
In a memo stuck in the main library, management observed that male students were failing to study because of indecent dressing among female students.
“NOTICE TO FEMALE STUDENTS. IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT SOME FEMALE STUDENTS DRESS HALF NAKED AS THEY USE THE LIBRARY, A SITUATION WHICH IS DISTURBING THE MALE STUDENTS. WE THEREFORE ADVISE FEMALE STUDENTS TO DRESS MODESTLY AS YOU USE UNIVERISTY FACILITIES. MODESTY IS THE WAY TO GO! MGT,” reads the memo which is also stuck in various sections of the main library.
Meanwhile, in a random interview conducted outside the university library, some students expressed mixed feelings on management’s advice.
Ian Chanza, a 1st year male student in the School of Natural Sciences said he is usually disturbed by the dress code of some female students and asked management to craft strict guidelines.
“I think the indecent type of dressing is disturbing to us because you find that you want to concentrate but the way she is dressed has carried you away and you start thinking about that. It’s kind of a sheer waste of time instead of focusing on important things like extracting knowledge, you start looking at a girl…you are just disturbed like that. Sometimes you even think it’s good the way Muslims have a dress code for women. If they can’t manage to put in control measures, they should separate us, males one side of the library and females on the other. Of course it’s a secular university but there should be level of decency,” said Chanda.
Chonde Dominic, a first year special education major, said the indecent dressing by some female students was corrupting his Christian values.
“In terms of dressing, it is indeed true that some female students when they are coming to the library they dress in such a way that at some point some of us boys we tend to be corrupted by the way they dress. So I think management should take even more strict measures to address this issue. It is tempting in the world of some of us who are Christians when they put on these miniskirts showing almost everything….you know women are very special,” said Chonde.
And Magaret Kabuswe, a fourth year media and communication studies student also supported management’s directive.
“I think for me I concur with management because really it’s very disturbing to our male folks. Not only do we come to learn academically here but also morally and culturally. We need to ensure as female students that we know how to dress and know what society expects us to do. Because I don’t expect a university student being half naked, what for? You need to show that you are educated in all areas including dressing,” Kabuswe said.
But some students are against the directive saying it hampers on individuals’ right to express themselves through fashion.
Sherry Chabala, a third year Media and Communication major said female students should be left to dress the way they want.
“I personally feel that is not making sense, UNZA is an institution of higher learning which means everybody here is an adult with a specific mission of acquiring education. If you are a male folk and you come to the University to look at girls, I think it’s just logical for one to know why they are here, what they want, study and do your academic work without focusing on girls. People are at this institution for different reason apart from learning, others are here to find partners as youths. So saying that female students are disturbing male students doesn’t make sense. Let’s know what we are here for. Let’s not focus on what other people are doing because you can come from your home to UNZA, you see people are drinking and you also start drinking, that means you are not thinking, you just need to know why you are here. Leave us, let us dress how we want,” said Chabala.
And another second year female student of environmental education who sought anonymity said management should revisit its decision as it borders on limiting the freedoms of female students.
“It’s a one sided opinion, not everyone can afford to buy clothes they are calling modest like closed shoes, those are like boarding school rules for the dining hall, there is no freedom there. So they should reconsider their rules because most people can’t meet that criteria. Male students should know what they are going in the library for, they should concentrate on studying and not watching badly dressed girls. When we go in the library, we sit with legs under the table so it means someone has to kneel down to see what can disturb them,” she said.