REPORTING FROM HAMPTON, VIRGINIA — When the dean of Hampton University’s school of business first decided to ban students from wearing cornrows or dreadlocks, it set off something of a storm on the picturesque Virginia campus.
But now, some years after the edict was put in place, students seem to be resigned to the requirements with some even applauding the decision.
Of course, hairstyles have been the method by which people showcase their individuality, particularly college students. But the officials in the business school insist that their number one mission has been to prepare students at the historically Black college to get jobs in an intensely competitive corporate America. In a challenging economy, Black students have to fight just to get in the door, business school leaders say.
“It doesn’t allow students to express their individuality, but I understand the business school’s motivation,” said Dylan J. Brown, a senior from Atlanta who is majoring in business, in an interview with BET.com. “I think the message is that, when you’re in the corporate world, you need to look the part of someone working the corporate world.”
Similarly, Cameron Miller, a senior public relations major from Washington, D.C., said that he and many other students look at the hair requirements as part of Hampton’s effort “to enrich opportunities for students.”
“I believe in students having freedoms, but there is a time and place for everything,” Miller said. “This is their way of helping students prepare for the real world. It’s a way of preparing students to enter a difficult job market.”
Sid Howard Credle, the dean of Hampton’s school of business, said that students have adjusted to the requirement and that there has been widespread, if grudging, acceptance of it.
“Our job is to prepare students for corporate America, to help them get a foot in the door,” Credle said. “Once they get in the door and can prove that they are geniuses, they can have all the flexibility they like.”
Credle added that graduates of the school of business have a 99 percent placement rate in jobs once they leave Hampton. “It works for our students, who get very good jobs. And their parents are very happy that their sons and daughters get jobs.”
Not surprisingly, some students remain less than enthusiastic about the rule.
“I understand why they want this rule, but I thought it was kind of silly,” said Jasmine Claypool, a senior broadcast journalism major from Los Angeles who used to wear dreadlocks.
“We’re college students, and we have time to determine whether we should wear dreadlocks,” she added. “Making students do something they don’t want to do can make them more rebellious. I think we should be allowed to learn on our own.”
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(Photo: Getty Images/STOCK)
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