For years when I’ve heard of ridiculous political correctness run amok in American academia, I’ve breathed a sigh of relief that it hasn’t happened at my alma mater, the University of Georgia. Until now.
Sororities and fraternities at UGA have banned the use of hoop skirts at events over concerns of the appearance of racism.
Victor Wilson, UGA’s vice president for student affairs, explained that the ban was due to concerns over what kind of “message” the skirt might send, and compared it to a previous ban on Confederate uniforms, according to an article in the Athens Banner-Herald.
In other words: The fact that people wore hoop skirts during the era of slavery in the U.S. makes them symbols of racism. “The student leadership, staff and advisors agree that Antebellum hoop skirts are not appropriate in the context of some events,” read an e-mail sent out Tuesday by Ashley Merkel, president of UGA’s Panhellenic Council, and Alex Bosse, president of the Interfraternity Council.
Students had previously worn them to events such as the “Magnolia Ball.”
The Banner-Herald elaborated on the ban, which comes on the heels of racial controversy involving fraternities at other schools.
The hoop skirt ban came after UGA Student Affairs administrators met Monday with some UGA fraternity and sorority leaders, including representatives of the UGA chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Kappa Alpha fraternities, both of which have deep roots in the South.
The ban comes a week after the University of Oklahoma expelled two SAE fraternity members and shut down the university’s SAE chapter because of a racist video made by members. In the video, SAE members chant about lynching, and using a racial slur, vow that there will never be a black member of the fraternity. The video went viral on the Internet and soon found its way to University of Oklahoma administrators. Talk during Monday’s UGA meeting at UGA was about presenting the university and Greek organizations in a good light, and not inviting negative attention, said Victor Wilson, UGA’s vice president for student affairs.
Part of the talk was about dress at such events as KA’s “Old South Week” and SAE’s “Magnolia Ball.” The discussion included hoop skirts, and the messages conveyed by such dresses or other articles of clothing, Wilson said.
“The discussion was about more than dress, but about how you present yourself, and dress was part of that,” he explained.
The university does not make the call on bans like this one — rather, the decision comes from the Greek organizations themselves. Earlier bans at UGA include prohibitions on Confederate uniforms and other symbols and insignia.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Sean Pavone