But they’re still as serious as ever
St Catz has relaxed its gender rules at formal dinners after a campaign by a transgender student.
Charlie Northrop, an American PhD Classics student, has successfully campaigned to end gendered dress codes at the college.
The college had required that male students must wear a jacket, tie and smart trousers, while women were to wear either a blouse and skirt or a dress.
Under the new rules, any student of either or other gender can wear whichever outfit they choose.
Northrop told the Daily Mail she was “over the moon,” and that “it’s absolutely wonderful that it’s now been passed”.
Describing the compromise, she said, “we had to come up with a way of proposing a new dress code that would omit gender specification but would still keep formality”.
“For instance the college wanted to ensure those wearing suits would still wear ties but female suits don’t have ties so we’ve worded it so that if you have buttons down the left side you don’t have to wear a tie but down the right side you do”.
The Dean’s Notice at St Catz said “Smart dress is defined without reference to considerations of gender identity or expression”, but reminded students to wear gowns to formal hall.
“Members and their guests must be dressed in suitably smart dress. This means a suit (or trousers and jacket), a shirt with a collar, a tie, and shoes (not trainers or sandals), or equivalently formal dress”.
In an email to the student body, Northrop told students the change “makes Catz formals a place to express yourself in a new spectrum of ways”.
Other colleges are now expected to follow with similar changes, while others never had gendered dress codes for formal in the first place.
In 2013, Cambridge changed its rules for graduation ceremonies to introduce gender neutral dress codes.
The codes previously required all students to wear dark clothes with academic dress, but said men were to wear “white ties and bands”. Under new guidelines, whether to wear a suit or dinner jacket was left to personal discretion.
The CUSU LGBT+ President at the time, Charlie Bell, stated “The ease with which we were able to pass this through Council shows how sensible the University is, and how much on the side of students the administration is. This is clearly a sensible decision and one which is well overdue.”