dress code
Two students arrive for class at the Every Nation Academy private school in the city of Makeni in Sierra Leone, April 20, 2012. A university in Mozambique has banned dreadlocks and tight clothes as part of its updated dress code policy. REUTERS

A university in southeast Africa has upped the ante for campus dress codes, enacting a strict policy that bans "dreadlocks, sandals, shorts and tight dresses" from being worn by its students, according to a researcher who was formerly a journalist. Zenaida Machado shared a photo of a letter written on the letterhead of Universidade Zambeze, in Mozambique, that she said confirmed the news. The letter was written in Portuguese.

Dress codes have recently come under scrutiny around the world, and not just on college campuses. A teenager was prevented from boarding a flight on Sunday because the would-be traveler was wearing a pair of leggings that violated United Airlines' dress code for its passengers.

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Strict dress codes were nothing new for university settings in Africa. Ekiti State University in Nigeria recently updated its dress code to ban a number of fashion statements, local news outlet NAIJ.com reported. A comprehensive list of clothing items not allowed to be worn by students included but were not limited to "tattered jeans," "loose ties," "low-necked tops," "sagging" and "abnormal haircut/style."

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"Safety is one reason for a dress code; however, many educators believe that a dress code also promotes a positive educational environment," Wayne Steffen, a professor at Fresno Pacific University, wrote on the school's website in 2007.

Universidade Zambeze's dress code is not unique, especially when it comes to enforcing policies against certain hairstyles. A Louisiana high school suspended a student for having dreadlocks, the Huffington post reported in 2014. The student was a practicing Rastafarian — a religion that requires its adherents to sport the matted hairstyle.

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Specifically, it was the hair length, not the fact that his hair was locked in dreads, that violated the dress code, as students were forbidden from having hair that fell lower than "the top of a school shirt collar." However, the American Civil Liberties Union, which defended the student, said the student was banned from school grounds "as long has his hair remains in dreadlocks," despite his religion.

Ultimately, the student cut his hair and graduated early.

Social media reactions to the news of Universidade Zambeze's dress code was mixed.