A Cornell University student delivered her thesis in her bra and underwear after a professor suggested her outfit of short shorts and a blue button-down shirt would be inappropriate.
The Ivy League student Letitia Chai said “strip, everybody!’ before presenting her thesis on refugee rehabilitation for an “Acting in Public” class, reported The Cornell Sun. Twenty-eight out of 44 people in the room followed her lead.
Chai said when she attempted to give her presentation earlier in the week in class, that time dressed in the button-down shirt and short shorts, Professor Rebekah Maggor said “is that really what you would wear?” and, as “a white woman,” proceeded to call her shorts “too short” and say Chai was making a “statement.”
Maggor’s course syllabus does not establish a dress code, but tells students to “dress appropriately for the persona [they] will present.”
“I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress,” Maggor told The Cornell Sun. “I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decisions.”
The professor purportedly compared Chai’s dress situation to her request to another student to take off his cap, but the student resisted this comparison, alleging that the teacher told her that her planned buttoned-down shirt and short shorts outfit would mess with “men’s attention.”
Maggor allegedly asked Chai “what would your mom think?” according to The New York Daily News.
“My mom is a Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies professor,” the student responded. “She has dedicated her life to the empowerment of people in all gender identities. So, I think my mother would be fine with my shorts.”
But 11 of Chai’s 13 fellow students in the class defended the professor in a joint statement, saying that although Maggor made an “error in phrasing,” the professor ‘s commitment to diversity and inclusion was “extremely sincere.”
Cornell spokesman John Carberry “politely decline[d]” comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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