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GENERAL => GENERAL FORUM => Topic started by: News on May 14, 2018, 02:51:20 PM

Title: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: News on May 14, 2018, 02:51:20 PM

Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear After Professor Criticizes Choice Of Clothes

By Pritha Paul
May 11, 2018 - (

A Cornell University student stripped down to her undergarments during a thesis presentation Saturday after her professor criticized her choice of clothes during one of the test runs of the presentation.

During a rehearsal of the presentation, Letitia Chai’s professor Rebekah Maggor asked whether the denim cutoff shorts she was wearing was appropriate for the occasion.

“The first thing that the professor said to me was ‘is that really what you would wear?” Chai wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. “The professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body,” she wrote in a presently-deleted Facebook post on May 2.

She told the Cornell Sun she was “so taken aback that I didn’t really know how to respond.” While most of her peers in “Acting in Public: Performance in Everyday Life” class took her side, questioning Maggor’s perception of men, one of the students defended the professor’s remarks, saying Chai should dress more conservatively for the sake of morality.
Full Article : (

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: amandalewis on May 14, 2018, 03:16:41 PM
I think this article has two sides, the professor and the student.

The Professor: In the world we live in, appearance unfortunately plays a part in how we are viewed, prejudged and interpreted. Was it the student's intention to dress similarly on the actual day of presentation? I do not know. If the professor assumed that the student would dress in this manner, then a general reminder could have been given to all the students at the end of the class regarding their dress code on presentation days. And yes, I believe that the statement was made partly because she was a female; would a male student be addressed regarding his attire or even in the same manner? I do not know.

The student: I personally disagree with the way the student managed the situation. Storming out of class was very immature of her and she did not stay to hear the rest of what was being said so she could factor it into her reaction. Does colourism have a role to play? I believe so. The student is light-skinned, and most likely white privilege has done a lot for her. Although she is from a minority group she may have still gotten away with a lot.

The point the student made by stating that females should not be judged by their attire is true. However, understanding the times we live in, one will understand that compromise in some cases is needed to effect change.

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: Nakandi on May 14, 2018, 03:22:02 PM
I would be interested in knowing what the dress code is. If it is clear on how to show up then I would be interested in knowing why the student chose to go against it during the test run, to begin with.

IF the institution has a dress code then I feel some kind of way about dragging in the male gaze. It is one thing to be inappropriately dressed as per a code, it is another if it is because males will be distracted. 🙄

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: Makini on May 14, 2018, 10:34:31 PM
The reasons the lecturer gave -distracting males- and the student -morality- continue to be ways to police the female body. Why should females dress to make males and other females comfortable if they themselves are comfortable and know the work they are presenting. I do however think attire choice should reflect the seriousness of the space and denim shorts does not first come to mind. However, the perception of seriousness is so vague, abstract, and can be very Eurocentric/Victorian/pedantic. Distraction in a general sense should be a consideration like wearing “gogo” lights on your head may be one person's idea of distraction or denim shorts another.  It would be interesting to hear the follow up given that she deleted the fb post.

Interestingly, the department where I currently study is trying to address such issues. I’ve seen Beyonce in tour wear in presentations about antibiotics resistance and puppy pictures come across screens during presentations...which has been somewhat a mockery the way they were included. But more to do with attire, last week a student who wears very dark shades was asked by her supervisor for them to be removed during her proposal seminar. I was not there but the teacher's argument was professionalism and the student's argument was "I’ve worn it in exams with no issue" definitely stirred up against the student who along with two siblings are seen as troublesome and arrogant.

Finally, the guidelines about attire can be very subjective. An east Indian accountant suggested before my proposal seminar, a few years ago that I should not wear an afro ...but I did. I saw on her face that it made her uncomfortable that I did not take her unsolicited advice. The same supervisor who told the student about the sunglasses once said in the kitchen in an open discussion that an afro is not a professional hairstyle. Also, many may think its "distracting", so these are good conversations to have about body image, identity and freedom of expression.

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: Leanna on May 14, 2018, 10:45:27 PM
I did have a reasoning with someone about this issue. I agree there are similarities between Makini's hair situation and this students dress code. Also, I think the professor's opinion on how the student should dress is rooted in flawed notions of respectability and morality and student protesting it is displaying that she does hold those views. In my reasoning with the individual noted it is the professor's right to give that opinion and the students right to protest it and I agree. I saw that opinion as a part of policing women's bodies. That opinion was about sexism and with Makini her colleague's opinion was about racism.

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: News on May 14, 2018, 11:56:08 PM
Cornell Student Delivers Thesis In Underwear After Professor Questions Her Outfit
A group of students defended the professor, writing that she was “noting the importance of professionalism.”
Full Article : (

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: Zaynab on May 15, 2018, 06:14:06 AM
I could see where both persons believe they have a point.

I agree with the student that how you dress should be up to you entirely. But, if you are doing a presentation ideally you would want your views to be weighed seriously and how you dress could be an unwanted distraction from the points at hand.  Also, though it was a mock presentation you would want to put your best there as well.

Further, if there is a disagreement in an environment that allows you to have a say or open discussion why not see it through instead of storming out, venting and getting others to go along with you. I think that's a form of cowardice as the student  could not stand alone (right there and then) and fight her battle.

Back to the issue at hand. I don't think the professor is wrong for  asking her about how her mother would feel, in a context.

Also her stripping down was not about her presentation but came across more like an ego.

I also wanted to add a side note in response to their "perception of men" comment.

Males WILL be looking at your this even a question?

Plus, her body is within the acceptable realm. This could add to her comfort of displaying it.

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: leslie on May 15, 2018, 07:28:14 AM
I viewed the video of the protest and I was less than impressed. While the young female is free to express herself as she chooses and while I agree that female bodies, more so than males, have been overly sexualised and shamed, the convention for presenting a lecture or seminar is business attire. For her lecturer to advise her of such was by no means crossing boundaries. However, the lecturer's reasoning for advising her against her attire was flawed; if she was more sensible, she could have better articulated another position. It is true that the short-pants wearing, or otherwise revealing attire would attract the straight male gaze. It is also true that regardless such does not warrant male abuse. Still, I agree that her choice of clothing in this situation was inappropriate. I also do not think that in this instance it was the most effective form of protest.

Many so-called feminists do disservice to the movement by claiming prejudice or injustice where there is none. The #metoo movement is one such example where feminist extremism prevails. Many males (some deserving) have received condemnation without a fair hearing. Although I may be wrong about the lack of judgement on the part of this female, as I was not privy to what the university lecturer actually said, I suspect that she read the lecturer wrong. This situation also points to the general character of modern-day feminism as well as the LGBTQIA movement which is to silence people who disagree with their stance. So, her response to a simple observation or a difference of perspective was to protest. Her right to do so, I fully agree but it was a protest in vain in my view.

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: Ayinde on May 15, 2018, 07:43:05 AM
I would really like to know whether males presented in shorts in the past. I agree that people should feel free to dress how they want. However, some institutions have rules or convention that govern how people dress for certain functions; if people choose to protest them then that is fine also.

If it is customary that people dress a certain way to attend certain functions, then if one goes against the usual protocol, one could be challenged and even be asked to conform. One is not bound to comply or respond but should be able to explain one’s position.  Going against convention can be distracting, but one also has the right to do so except where it is reasonably forbidden. If people are making ill-informed comments without malice, then that could be addressed through discussions.

By default, many people are racist and sexist and even if someone may be informed about feminism, they may be blind to racism, colorism, sizeism and ageism, and they may also harbour Eurocentric perceptions of beauty. If they are white or light skin they may be unaware of how privilege allows them to behave as they want and still be accepted.

A white or light skin girl who is considered attractive can easily resort to stripping in protest and if she does so there is no shame on her because her body-type is preferred. People easily buy her version of events and so it goes. From a privileged position, she could really be arrogant and be protesting, "How dare you tell me what I can or cannot do?"  and this is embraced as empowerment.

If I see a female walking along a dangerous lonely street at night, I might tell her that she may be better off walking on another street as she could face attack by males who are up to no good. She could argue, “It is my right as a woman to walk anywhere I wish and dress anyhow I want. Why don’t you tell those males to behave?” Sure, she is 100% correct, but that does not automatically mean that I am wrong either. Getting criminal males to change their behaviour takes more time than it would be to address the immediacy of the danger that she could be in. Thus, she can either try to be flexible in her judgement and see another point of view or be right and face the possible consequences.

Title: Re: Cornell Student Delivers Presentation In Underwear...
Post by: Meri on May 15, 2018, 02:20:32 PM
I thought that she did not take the time to think; she went into an extreme protest too quickly. If she did not have a body that was considered mainstream she may have thought out and presented a meaningful argument to the professor without resorting to stripping. These females who want to dominate the women’s rights movement are most times ill-equipped to conduct themselves in a manner that leaves room for others in that they take the sting out of other forms of protest that could have been used more wisely. They want all the limelight and have no qualms about what they do to achieve it.