FEU students can now cross-dress on campus
MANILA, Philipines – Far Eastern University (FEU) students all wear uniforms to school. But, since August of 2016, the private nonsectarian university has relaxed its uniform rules to allow cross-dressing on campus.
"It's [to recognize] that gender expression is something personal. FEU is a university and we value diversity and inclusiveness," said Joeven Castro, Director of FEU's Office of Student Development.
Prior to the rule change, the university banned students who did not wear their proper uniform from entering the campus.
"(Before), mahirap talaga para sa amin na makapasok sa gate kasi malaki ang chance na mahuhuli kami ng security (guards) at sisitahin kami. Ang matindi pa, kukuhanin ang student number namin at ire-report," said Leandro Acuña Jr, vice president of the Society of Homosexual Emergence (SHE), a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) group in FEU.
(Before, it was really hard for us to enter the gate because there was a big chance that we would be caught by security guards and we would be accosted. What's worse, they would even get our student number and report us.)
Acuña added he and his friends would often hide among a crowd of students to avoid being noticed by the security guards.
With the school's new policy, they said they are now free to express themselves through their choice of clothes, provided, however, they wear the uniform.
"Sobrang malaking bagay para sa aming mga LGBT ang bagong policy na ito kasi hindi na namin kailangan magtago," Acuña said. "Mas mai-express na namin 'yung sarili namin, na may karapatan din kaming magsuot ng kung ano'ng gusto namin based sa aming preference."
(This new policy is really important to us LGBTs because we no longer have to hide. We can now better express ourselves, and we have the right to wear whatever we want based on our preference.) (READ: Is the Philippines really gay-friendly?)
Many students at the university, both homosexuals and heterosexuals, welcomed the policy.
"It promotes and nurtures the diverse culture of FEU, an idea, a vision which allows our LGBT fellows to feel a sense of democratized expression, to feel comfortable about themselves," said Romel Bernardo, president of FEU's Central Student Organization.
"In the end, it makes FEU a fine institution in the promotion of learning beyond theories," he added.
With this new policy in place, could FEU one day have no dress code whatsoever?
Castro revealed that there is a proposal by a group of academic officials to scrap the uniform policy all together, but that the matter is still up for debate. – Rappler.com
Cathrine Gonzales is a Rappler intern from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.