Belfast Telegraph

'They should just let us wear what we want... will it be about tattoos and piercings next?'

So, what do female students think about university's style advice for their big day?

By Sophie Inge

Do Queen's University students really dress like Kim Kardashian? And does it even matter if they do?

After the Belfast institution sparked outrage for warning female students not to dress like the reality TV star on their graduation day, the Belfast Telegraph spoke to some to find out what they think of the dress code.

Among those attending their graduation ceremony yesterday afternoon, few had opted for the classic elegance of Grace Kelly - though several were wearing the kind of sky-high heels and short dresses favoured by Kardashian.

Most, it has to be said, were in plain but stylish dresses which ended at the knee or just above.

Maeve O'Neill (22), an economics and finance graduate from Newry, didn't think it was the university's place to dictate what students should wear.

"I thought it was a bit degrading to people," she said. "As university students, we should be able to wear whatever we want. Is it going to be about tattoos and piercings next? I think it was completely out of order."

Moreover, added Maeve, the advice to students was insulting to Kardashian.

"I'm not even a Kim Kardashian fan, but I thought it was degrading to her as well," she said.

"She's an incredibly successful woman and it doesn't matter what she wears either."

For Ruth Tweed (25), from Ballymoney, who studied inclusion in special needs education, the university's message had sexist overtones.

"I actually did a dissertation on gender in terms of stereotyping and conditioning, and the fact that we condition girls from a young age to dress a certain way so that it's socially acceptable," said Ruth. "It's interesting that there was no guideline for men - so there's an inequality in that. But there's also an inequality in the fact that we are dictating how women should dress at all."

She added: "I don't care how anybody dresses - it should be whatever you feel comfortable in. I certainly don't dress in a way to please anyone else, and I'm comfortable in what I'm wearing."

Rory Gueld (26), from Belfast, who studied for a Master's in violence, terrorism and security, also disagreed with the university's guidelines. "In fairness, they (students) have paid enough money for the tuition fees. If they want to wear what they want, then let them."

But Sarah Rodgers (23), from Portadown, who studied applied behaviour analysis, disagreed.

"I wouldn't dress like Kim Kardashian anyway," she said. "I've worked hard all year and I just want to look respectful."

Looking at images of Kardashian and Kelly, Amy Gilsenan (23), from Rostrevor, who did a Master's in clinical anatomy, said: "Both of these styles are at either end of the extreme, and I think probably a happy medium would be nice.

"I chose to wear a velvet knee-length dress to my own graduation."

According to Claire Fulton (43), from Portadown, who did a Master's did a social sciences Master's in strategy and leadership, the dress code for students is almost non-existent. "It's not as bad as it used to be," she said. "I graduated here 20 years ago - when you had to wear black and white or navy and white. At least now they're not that restrictive."

Referring to the university's advice, she added: "I think it's fair enough, but I think it's a bit harsh if you arrive for your graduation and you're not allowed in if you're not dressed the way they want you to be."

A male graduate in his 30s, who did not wish to be named, commented: "It's a bit of fun, and it was obviously said in jest."

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