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Wearing Shorts Deemed Inappropriate

Supervisors Tell Fiscal Service Employee His Attire is 'Improper'

By Laurence S. Grafstein

When an employee in the Office of Fiscal Services wore shorts to work Wednesday, his supervisors decided he was "improperly attired" and told him not to "let it happen again" despite temperatures of up to 78 degrees in Holyoke Center.

Willard M. Chandler, a staff assistant in the Office of Fiscal Services, said a memo from his superiors declaring that shorts are inappropriate for office wear was a personal slight to him.

"I couldn't understand what the fuss was," Chandler, who wore neat navy blue shorts, said. "They said my dress was inappropriate because we deal with the public, but mailmen and bus drivers deal with the public, and they wear shorts," he added.

No Policy

Because the University has no uniform dress code to encompass all personnel departments, individual supervisors set codes at their discretion.

"The various departments are so spread out it's impossible for us to set a dress code." Daniel Cantor, director of personnel, said yesterday, adding that a given dress code should "depend on the position."

Minimal

The University has to use "loose guidelines." Cantor said, adding, "I wouldn't expect Buildings and Grounds workers. Office of Fiscal Services workers, and fund raisers to wear the same things."

Cantor said that the banning of shorts in the Office of Fiscal Services "seemed an appropriate thing, since they deal with the public."

Clean and Neat

Stephen W. Homer, director of student receivables and Chandler's supervisor, yesterday denied that the memo, which stated dress should be "clean and neat in the office," was directed against Chandler in particular.

"We had some questions from people who came in about his attire, and as a result of that, we decided shorts were inappropriate." Homer said, adding, "It was a good opportunity to make things clear." and added "shorts are not permitted."

But Chandler questioned what he termed a "double standard." Charging that the determination of what constitutes proper attire was arbitrary, Chandler, who wore a suit to work yesterday, asked, "Why are dungaree skirts and spaghetti straps all right while my shorts are not?"

Questions

Pearl Croxton, another staff assistant in the Office of Fiscal Services, also questioned the newly-articulated policy. "If shoulders and backs can be exposed with halter tops, why not knees?" she asked, but added that if the matter were up to the discretion of the supervisor, she "would have to accept it."

While Cantor said there is a "very blurry line" between men's shorts and women's attire such as halter tops, he said no rigid policy exists and his office only intercedes if the situation "is abused or abusive."

"If one is in a public-affiliated position, one should dress accordingly," Cantor said.

Chandler complained that he had been notified through a general memo rather than personally. "That's the way they operate things around here--everything is done by memo and I don't appreciate it," he said. Homer denied the charge.

Chandler has worked at the Office of Fiscal Services since 1975, and he said his attire has never been questioned

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