Keep Your Shirt On: What to Wear to Virtual Class


How a student should dress on zoom. Photo by Anna Shvets/Pexels

Julie Marie Frances DeVoe, Copy Editor

While going over a syllabus as a new student at NJCU, I was shocked when I read “no undergarments or absence of undergarments” under Zoom etiquette. I had to refrain from laughing as I never encountered something like this before.

In all my years of college, the syllabus never had to state we could not wear undergarments. I felt dumbfounded that a professor had to actually put this in her syllabus.

Associate Professor of English Laura Wadenpfuhl, who inspired this article said in a Zoom interview that she noticed that the number has been small in terms of violating the dress code but when it is egregious, it has been very noticeable.

She states that, “For instance; someone, a male, okay just let me make that clear on that, a male showing up naked from the waist up or folks showing up in what looked like undergarments or pajamas to me.”

She also feels that we should not take our classes in bed, “We need to show up in a virtual classroom as we would in a face-to-face classroom. And I believe that for a few reasons; one is that we show respect to ourselves, the other is that we show respect for our classmates. The third reason is that I believe that we take all of ourselves more seriously.”

Wadenpfuhl recommended that I reach out to English professor James Broderick but his response was slightly different, “The idea of appropriate dress is always rather subjective.” He thinks that students and faculty should dress in the means that they feel comfortable in because with everything going on, the appropriate dress code may not be a major priority in their life.

When asked if the school and English Department should enforce a dress code, he said, “Going forward, that’s probably an idea worth exploring.” In our Zoom interview, Broderick concluded that he is concerned with students getting to class comfortably and feeling content with what they are going to be taught.

I feel that we should be able to wear what we want but within reason. Wearing what you want to express yourself as a person is one thing, but wearing undergarments on camera is another. It shows our professors that we do not respect ourselves and we do not respect them.

Our professors want us all to thrive in their classes and they do not want us to be distracted by someone’s choice of clothing. I am not saying that we should wear turtlenecks and jeans, but I feel we owe our professors for the duration of each semester to wear something appropriate for class.

It could be a school pride t-shirt with a pair of jeans, or it could be a tank top and a midi skirt paired with a cardigan. I do not know about you; but even to this day, I would imagine what outfit I would wear on the first day of school and the last day of school. I want to think of it as a first impression and an ending impression.

If I did not want to be seen in public and risk humiliation, it was not an outfit to wear to school. Just because we are in a pandemic and are virtual, I feel we still owe our professors the respect to show up either in casual or business casual attire. Leave the revealed undergarments for a private segment.