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Guidelines for Student Dress

Personal appearance is, to a large degree, a function of biblical principles combined with personal values. At Western Seminary, we have avoided a “dress code” because this approach lends itself to legalism. However, there is also the danger that the lack of any direct statement might be construed as a lack of concern on the part of the institution about such matters as dress, neatness or personal appearance in general. Thus, we have attempted to identify principles which relate to this matter and trust that they will be applied by all.

These principles include:

  • A believer’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit;
  • A person’s function or the occasion is an important part of the appropriateness of dress/appearance (God’s creation is one of order and order is related to function -- Genesis 1:24-28);
  • How a person appears in another person’s presence may indicate their respect for that person or the purpose for which they are relating to that person;
  • Preparation for ministry is a high calling;
  • All believers, especially members of the seminary family, are subject to constant scrutiny by the community and constituency.
  • You are encouraged to consider these principles in relation to overly casual attire, clothes in disrepair, a disheveled appearance, or immodest articles of clothing.
  • The administration has established as a minimum standard that sleeveless shirts (for men) and bare feet are not considered appropriate for classroom attendance. Women are encouraged to be conscientious of necklines and hemlines.

Additionally, you are encouraged to be aware that the Western community is made up of men and women from many different ethnic backgrounds, denominational perspectives, and life stages. While personal appearance and dress are individual expressions, at Western we relate and interact as members of a community. In community, we are called to be considerate of others, even putting another’s interests above our own, or foregoing a personal liberty for the sake of another (Philippians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Thus, consideration and respect for our brothers and sisters is an important value that we wish to impart.

The above statement is not intended to constitute a complete and final list of what is and isn’t allowable. There may be—in fact are—a number of things which would obviously not be acceptable (attending class without a shirt, for example), nor is this statement intended to be a “check list” to be interpreted legalistically -- students are still encouraged to apply “the spirit, not just the letter, of the law.” Neatness, cleanliness and propriety are still the keys and will be expected. Flagrant deviations from these guidelines will be dealt with on an individual basis.