The University of Nude Caucasians at Wilmington

Posted: May 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Dear President Broad:

I am writing to express my complete outrage at a memo written by UNC-Wilmington Director of Human Resources William Fleming, which was sent to all faculty and staff at our university. The memo was uncalled for, offensive, and should not be tolerated at an institution dedicated to tolerance.

Fleming's arrogant memo began with the dubious claim that "The UNCW Staff Council has asked that guidance be provided regarding appropriate campus attire." The idea that an HR Director would send a memo telling employees how to dress is outrageous enough. But Fleming's use of the term "appropriate" was simply inappropriate. Because he made people feel inferior about their clothing, he should be dressed down immediately. This should be done by his superiors.

In countless diversity seminars, our university has spent thousands of dollars teaching us that it is never appropriate to make sweeping generalizations or moral judgments of any kind. At a diverse university, everyone should agree on two points: 1) Generalizations are never good. 2) Moral judgments are always immoral.

Fleming's arrogance continues: "It is acknowledged and appreciated that UNCW employees use good judgment in their work clothing selection as a general rule." Does this mean that Fleming has been paying attention to our clothing and making judgments about our clothing judgments? The HR department has established certain disciplinarily proceedings for those who are intolerant and judgmental. Fleming should be subjected to those proceedings and suspended without pay, while the committee's final judgment is pending.

Fleming's next paragraph also raises serious concerns: "While UNCW does not have a written dress policy or code, it is expected that all employees will wear clothing that is appropriate to the duties performed and that is consistent with the image UNCW wishes to convey to students, constituents, and visitors...Other offices and units may have a specific business need for requiring certain clothing and so some unit level dress standards may be appropriate."

By using the term "appropriate" twice in a single paragraph, Fleming's intolerance rises to nearly Republican proportions. But what he fails to state in this paragraph is even more disturbing. After using the term "image," Fleming does nothing to tell us exactly what "image" our university "wishes to convey." I would like to address the nature of the image UNCW has been (and should be) trying to convey.

When our university's Women's Center sponsors the Vagina Monologues, it encourages women to use the c-word and the p-word. The sale of vagina-shaped lollipops, or p-pops, on campus sends a message that women should not be ashamed of their bodies.

When our university's diversity office buys and distributes the magazine "Queer Notes," it sends a message that gay men should not be ashamed of their bodies. After all, Q-Notes is full of pictures of nearly-naked gay men and scantily clad drag queens. Our trans-gendered law seminars (I once attended one) teach us that people should routinely switch bathrooms depending on what gender they feel applies to them on any given day. As they say, gender is between the ears, not between the legs.

In light of our diversity efforts, I feel that UNCW's image is best described as a cross between a brothel and a gay bath house. And the requirement that people wear certain clothes-indeed that they wear clothes at all-runs contrary to that image.

That is why today I am asking the UNC system to establish UNCW as an all-nude university. And I propose that we do it in the name of tolerance and diversity.

After all, Director Fleming states in his memo that "It is recognized that Wilmington is a coastal community with several months of warm and humid weather (usually May - September). During these seasons, the Chancellor encourages flexibility where possible for office and administrative employees to wear 'business casual' attire." Clearly, the elimination of all clothing would help to eliminate subjective judgments about what constitutes "business casual" attire.

When Fleming states that "Dress sandals for women (open-toes) are acceptable. However, flip flops, T-shirts, and similar 'around-the-house' or vacation-type clothing are typically not appropriate in the office setting," he risks interjecting gender bias into the workplace. Such bias could be eliminated with my recommendation of total nudity in the workplace.

In the recent past, I have seen young women on campus with pants cut so low that they expose portions of their bodies I never expected to see in the workplace. These brave young women are showing us just how far the women's movement has come at UNCW. They are also showing that my plan is not so far from the present reality to pose problems of implementation.

After we establish an all nude university, we can start to consider an all white university. With a Black Student Center, separate black faculty meetings, and brown bag luncheons for black faculty and staff, UNCW has clearly endorsed racial segregation. Why not take a leadership role in the diversity movement by making ours the first all white university? Let's take it to another level in the name of progress!

When my dream becomes reality, there will be no need to worry about the rising cost of tuition. People will pay anything to attend the all-nude university and they won't have to budget for clothing. No one will feel uncomfortable because their clothes are "inappropriate" or, for that matter, less expensive than the next person. And I won't have to look at offensive tee shirts that say "F*** Bush" or "I had an abortion."

Finally, I hope that the title of university chancellor will be changed to university emperor. With your help, the assertion that the emperor has no clothes will ring even truer than it does today.