On November 8
th the Testing Center began a campaign to remind students of the CES Dress and Grooming Standards. The campaign has gained the attention and criticism of many students.
Some students have encountered resistance from Testing Center officials when attempting to enter the facility because of excessively tight pants.
Self-described as “curvy,” Rachel Vermillion, a senior studying psychology, took a test in the afternoon of the day that the new rule was implemented.
Afterwards she attended another class, studied for her second test of the day and attended a leadership meeting with her bishop as a member of her ward’s Relief Society presidency. From there she went directly to the Testing Center.
At 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the Testing Center was scheduled to close, Vermillion entered the facility prepared to take her test and was told by an employee there that she would not be permitted to enter.
“I got in line and the guy said that I couldn’t take a test because my pants were too tight,” Vermillion said. “I thought he was joking at first.”
Vermillion wasn’t given a warning, despite the Testing Center’s history of issuing warnings to students for similar violations of the CES Dress and Grooming Standards.
“I thought it was going to be like, ‘Next time, wear a different pair of pants,'” Vermillion said. “I’d never gotten a warning. I pointed out to him girls around me who had gotten in who were wearing jeans much tighter than my pants, but he just said, ‘It’s at the discretion of the Testing Center employees.’ He got very angry and was very rude.”
“When I told him that I lived 20 minutes away from Rexburg and that if I went home to change and came back the Testing Center would be closed, he just said, ‘That’s not my problem.’”
Even when a fellow employee attempted to persuade him to allow Vermillion to take her test, he did not relent.
“Another girl who worked there told him that the pants I was wearing were looser than hers,” Vermillion said. “It was really frustrating because there were skinny girls who were wearing tight pants who were getting admitted, but I’m curvy so my regular-fitting pants were a little bit tighter on me and he wouldn’t let me in. It was offensive and humiliating.”
John Dexter, manager of the Testing Center, acknowledged that some staff members have been more zealous than others in enforcing the dress code.
“I do have a cole of staff who have inadvertently sent people away on their own,” Dexter said. “That isn’t something we enforce. That’s because of poor communication. We’ve struggled with this and figuring out how to do it without embarrassing people unduly.”
Last month a sign was posted at the Testing Center that read, “If your pants are tight enough to see the shape of your leg, your pants are too tight. The CES Dress and Grooming Standards state that: ‘Clothing is inappropriate when it is . . . formfitting.’ Skin tight clothing is NOT appropriate attire.”
Concluding this notice was a short paragraph that read, “If your clothing or attitude does not meet the commitments you have made to live the Honor Code, will you please go home and prayerfully visit with your Father in Heaven and recommit yourself to be a true disciple and abide by the Honor Code that defines your commitment to be a disciple.” The sign was replaced three days later.
“I decided after a cole weeks of prayerful consideration and some discussions here in our staff that something had to be done. I put out one sign; I tend to be a little bit rash, but we modified it so that it’s not too harsh,” Dexter said.
Today there stands a similar sign, but with the concluding paragraph reading, “If you don’t understand the Dress and Grooming standards, we invite you to go to the Lord ‘and ask in faith, nothing wavering’ for approval of the clothing you wear. The Spirit will tell you whether what you are wearing is appropriate or not.”
In response to students who feel that formfitting jeans are appropriate, Dexter said, “If a student prays and they think that the tight ‘formfitting’ clothing is accepted by the Lord, they have not asked, or have not asked the right question, or they have chosen an answer for their own gratification. I don’t believe the Lord would give approval to anyone to be disobedient to the CES Dress and Grooming Standards.”
The Testing Center has not made any policy changes. They are reminding students of the Dress and Grooming Standards against formfitting clothing.
“This has been a CES standard for as long as I’ve been here,” Dexter said. “All we’re doing is quoting the CES policy.”
The Testing Center has been criticized for not communicating the stricter enforcement of BYU-Idaho’s formfitting clothing policy.
“I don’t care if they require me to wear a burqa,” Vermillion said, “but they should really let you know beforehand. I had just come from a meeting with my bishop, but I couldn’t get into the Testing Center.”