Amid UST uniform issue, social media ask: Should wearing of uniforms be required in schools?

February 22, 2024 - 3:55 PM
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School uniforms
Students wearing school uniforms (Image by jcomp on Freepik)

The uproar about uniforms involving the University of Santo Tomas (UST) sparked online conversations about its affordability and costliness to students in the long run.

The Thomasian community recently decried the “media censorship” by the university’s Office for Student Affairs (OSA) for ordering the removal of a photo of two College of Information and Computing Sciences students entering a convenience store.

This was published by campus media organization TomasinoWeb.

The students wore “Type B” uniforms, colored red and beige with a logo.

TomasinoWeb executive editor Miguel Angelo Sumalinog said that the photo gained traction due to the similarities between the uniforms of the students and the store staff.

Part of the uniforms of 7-Eleven Philippines staff are also colored red and beige.

UST’s university administration ordered the photo to be taken down since it allegedly caused “public ridicule” to students and the university due to a supposed “association of the Type B uniform with convenience store employee’s uniform.”

READ: Progressive groups, solon decry UST admin’s photo takedown order

The issue has since raised concerns about campus press freedom woes, with some commenting that it appeared the university was ashamed its students were wearing uniforms of “the same colors of a 7-11 worker.”

RELATED: Campus press freedom woes raised amid viral UST’s photo takedown order

Meanwhile, further talks of wearing school uniforms were raised on a forum social network as some asked if it is costly to have students wear one instead of their own clothes.

No uniforms: ‘Trying to fit in’ 

Some thought that having no uniforms in college was more expensive since they said you have to buy new clothes every now and then to avoid being potentially made fun of by other students if they repeat their clothes.

“As someone who went to a no-uniform university, mas magastos ang walang uniform. Minsan, nakakahiya pa kasi mabibilang mo talaga kung ilang shirts/maong/dress lang ang pinagmamay-ari ng isang estudyante kasi parang memorized mo na ang suot nila every day,” a Redditor wrote.

“And I agree with you about sa labahan issues. Kung naka-uniform lang sana kami, 3-4 pairs lang sana lalabhan ko every weekend noon, tapos sabay na lang the pambahay clothes na sinusuot while nasa dorm. Eh tae, no uniform. Ang dami ko tuloy kailangang labhan, so pinapa-laundry ko na lang. Dagdag gastos pa,” the user commented.

“Mas magastos naman talaga walang uniform. Bukod sa magastos, hindi din realistic ‘yung magagastusan ka lang if you’re trying to fit in na narrative. Lalo sa mga public schools, mapansin lang na ang dalas mong ulitin ang suot mo in a week/month, paborito ka na agad ng mga bibo/bully students (unfortunately meron at meron talaga sa mga schools, hindi maiiwasan),’ another Redditor said.

“Mas magastos ang No Uniform in general. I studied in PUP, which is mostly no uniform. I tried to be less magastos by using my typical t-shirt and pants. Hahaha, let’s just say mukha akong hampas lupa compare sa mga kaklase ko. A professor even told me na mukha akong aso sa damit ko! What happened is, I have to buy better and newer t-shirt, plus shoes, kaya parang mas napagastos din ako. Plus, ‘yung troma sa sinabi ng professor ko!” wrote another user.

‘Uniforms are costlier’

Others, meanwhile, believed that having a uniform was costlier since they still had to shell out money to buy blouses, skirts, slacks and the like, compared to sticking to the clothes they already have in their wardrobe.

“Sa college, mas convenient and ‘di magastos para sa’kin ang walang uniform. Kung okay lang naman sa’yo nakapambahay, pantulog, at pareparehas suot palagi pagpasok sa school, go lang. Talagang ‘di magastos ‘yon, hehe, kasi tbh [to be honest], ‘di ka rin naman i-juj-udge ng mga kapwa estudyante kung ganong suot mo eh, pareparehas lang namang student din (speaking din based on school environment),” a Redditor said.

“Tama naman, ‘magastos’ is kung makikipag-sabayan ka sa iba at buy lagi ng bago. You can cheap-on naman, like officemate ko… lagi [kang] naka-plain black na shirt lang,” another Pinoy wrote.

“Mas magastos may uniform. Magastos lang ang walang uniform sa mga insecure, which, sa Pinas, means karamihan. Pero for someone like me na walang pake, ‘di na ‘ko gagastos para sa uniform at susuotin ko kung ano meron ako. ‘Di na ‘ko bibili ng bago,” commented another Reddit user.

“A lot are answering the wrong question. Uniform is MORE convenient, but no, it’s not affordable to many,” wrote a different Pinoy.

“My cousin started as grade 11 this year, they are underprivileged talaga. Her dad is PWD, her mom ay paraket-raket ta’s helper. She was sent home by the school on Wednesday kasi daw [three] days na at wala pa siyang skirt for SHS [senior high school]. The guards sent her home. She visits my mom, ta’s binili niya uniform pinsan ko. [You] know why?” the Redditor said.

“Kasi when my mom was in high school, hindi siya makapag-graduation dahil walang uniform. She made last minute utangan sa palengke so she can wear one at the actual event. She got late though, umiyak na lang siya sa labas ng gymnasium, kasi now its useless, plus my utang na siya,” the user continued.

“Try to see from their perspective… Try to be on a child [sa] shoe na kailangang labhan ang [isang] blouse na P300+ sa palengke almost everyday so she can get past the gates. Pahirap ang uniform. Make it optional, not mandatory,” the Redditor said.

What others say 

Schools have uniforms to establish an identity. It also serves a security purpose since non-students can be easily identified by others.

For a head teacher at the Neale-Wade Academy in Cambridgeshire, England, it shows that one is “part of an organization.”

“Wearing it says we’re all in this together,” Jason Wing said in a 2013 report in The Guardian.

An English teacher also said it gives students “a sense of belonging to a particular school.”

“Perhaps most importantly, a uniform means students don’t have to worry about peer pressure when it comes to their clothes. When everyone is dressed the same, worrying about what you look like isn’t so important. There is no competition about being dressed in the latest trend, which would put a great deal of financial pressure on students and parents,” the report said.

It, however, also acknowledged that uniforms may also be more expensive.

“Many schools have a specific supplier, and wearing cheaper alternatives can result in punishment if the black skirt you’re wearing isn’t exactly the right black skirt. Finding uniform that fits you, especially if you’re limited to one shop, can also be a struggle,” the report added.