Wednesday, November 23, 2005

imperial injustice

Completely unbelievable news from the Imperial College in London, which has just annouced that it is banning all hoodies and headscarves for 'security reasons'!

The college's management board approved the new dress code at the beginning of the month. "Clothing that obscures an individual's face is not allowed on any of the college's campuses," it reads. "Employees and students should refrain from wearing clothing which obscures the face, such as a full or half veil, or hooded tops or scarves worn across the face."

College officials said the move was part of renewed efforts to improve security on campus after the summer bombings in London. It was also an attempt to combat theft and deter animal rights activists on campus. Security staff should be able to match a person's face to their security card, the regulations read.

But students are fighting the new dress code. This week they will debate and vote on a motion that would amend it to allow hoodies and all religious dress. Sarah Khatib, the deputy president of the student union who seconded of the motion, said: "Students should not to have to seek permission to wear any religious item. We all understand that the college wants to identify people, so we're trying to find a middle way.

"People have happily accepted the fact that there is increased security and they have to wear their swipe cards. But they aren't happy about the hoodies. It's a sign of youth, you wear it as a student, but not once you work in the city. People like wearing them and when it's cold the hoods are necessary. They feel it is an infringement on freedom."

Part of my job is going around University campuses (including Imperial) and in the last few years campus security has changed unbelievably; in many cases it's simply impossible to access university departments, libraries or amenities without prior arrangement and/or identification. Imperial is one of the few places where you walk in anytime, get in the lift and go straight to any department unchecked. You would think that fixing this security oversight might be a slightly higher priority than stopping Muslims from wearing headscarves or kids from wearing hoodies to keep out the cold. But no. Ridiculous.

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