by Maria Lloyd
As an alum of an HBCU, I am embarrassed by the decision made to ban male students from wearing dreadlocks and cornrows at Hampton University’s School of Business. The school’s dean, Sid Credle, argues that the ban has been effective in helping students land corporate jobs and that they should look the part when searching for employment.
College should be a source of innovation and independent thinking. When colleges, especially historically black colleges, encourage our youth to “look the part” we’re stepping into dangerous territory. We’re telling our youth to not think independently, to not consider creating their own source of income. In other words, we’re encouraging them to conform.
With African Americans being affected the worst by the economic downturn, the last thing we should be teaching our youth is to conform to the corporate environment. Let’s face it: Corporate America, like many things in this country, is not tailored for us. If it were, I can assure you we’d see more brown faces in positions of leadership. Entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency should be the primary subjects of business school curriculum at HBCUs across the nation.
Dean Credle’s argument exudes the generational disconnect between faculty and students that is occurring in colleges throughout the nation. How can you breed a new generation of leaders when you’re suppressing their style? Does a student’s appearance not attribute to their self-confidence? Although the ban is specifically for male students who enroll in the school’s five year MBA program’s seminar class, I think Dean Credle’s argument to support the ban should be challenged and deemed as an embarrassment to the school and his career.