UP Visayas clarifies directive on graduation dress code for LGBTQ+
ILOILO CITY — Graduating students of the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) can now dress up according to their gender preference during the commencement exercises on July 21.
Dr. Clement Camposano, the chancellor of UPV, said that the university administration had already decided to allow graduating students to dress based on their gender expression, provided that this is still in accordance with the system-wide guidelines.
“The guidelines are flexible enough. We have decided to allow transgender and non-conforming students to dress according to their gender expression as long as they are consistent with the guidelines,” he said.
“For example, if you’re male and your gender expression is female, then you can dress as a female as long as you dress according [to] how females are supposed to dress in the guidelines,” he added.
Camposano drew flak after directing graduating students who do not conform to the “heteronormative” standards of clothing to send a letter explaining their gender identity and expression.
He emphasized that the UPV’s recent policy is the same as that of UP Cebu, which earned praise for allowing flexible attire preferences for members of the LGBTQIA+.
“I don’t think that there is any kind of marginalization there. In fact, what we are trying to do is expand the interpretation of the existing guidelines. I understand references have been made to the policy of UP Cebu. I just contacted UP Cebu Chancellor Leo Malagar and confirmed that our policies are exactly the same,” Camposano said.
He said the UPV was merely requesting the students to notify them of their choice to wear gender-affirming attire.
“I think that was misunderstood because what the Registrar has appealed to do is [for students] to formally notify us that they prefer to dress differently. The reason why we have to do that is because we’re deviating from established practice, and for purposes of documentation, then there must be that kind of request. It’s not even a request, it’s just even a notification,” he said.
“We’ve moved so far from tradition already, and I think it’s good for people to somehow learn to meet their institution halfway so that we are spared from the difficulties later on,” he added.
As to the backlash on social media, he said it was unfortunate that members of the community went to social media instead of clarifying things directly with the administration.
“We’re trying to open [the rules] up to liberal interpretation, and it’s unfortunate that they went straight to social media without clarifying the matter with us,” he said.
In a statement released on Saturday, July 9, the student council said they earlier sent a letter to the Office of the Chancellor requesting for a “more lenient dress code.”
The chancellor, in response, allowed graduating students to dress according to their gender preference as long as it conforms to the university’s guidelines that is formal clothing with the sablay to preserve the solemnity and dignity of the graduation.
But during the graduation orientation last Friday, graduating students were told that those who do not conform to the “heteronormative” standards of clothing must send a letter explaining their gender identity and expression.
The student council said the move of the school administration with regard to the graduation dress code disrespects students’ gender identity and disregards their right to gender expression.
The council called the dress code policy “outdated” and appealed to the UP system to review and recalibrate it.
UP’s usual attire combinations for its graduates included Ecru Filipiniana for women and Barong Tagalog for men, both of which were worn with the sablay.
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