A university student in the US has made a statement by stripping down to her underwear after her professor criticised her choice of clothing.
Letitia Chai was about to present a trial run of her senior thesis when her professor made a comment about her choice of outfit – a button down shirt and denim cut-off shorts.
“The first thing that the professor said to me was ‘is that really what you would wear?’” Letitia told campus newspaper the Cornell Daily Sun. “I think that I was so taken aback that I didn’t really know how to respond.”
She was told that her shorts were ‘too short’ and that when giving a presentation, the clothes worn by the presenter make a ‘statement.’ Letitia also said she was told that her outfit was inviting the male gaze.
While the university has no formal dress code, the course syllabus instructs students to “dress appropriately for the persona [they] will present.”
Letitia left the classroom after the professor’s comments but returned to give her practice presentation in her underwear.
That night, she wrote a Facebook post about what had transpired that vent viral, and invited readers to join her for the actual presentation as part of a larger demonstration.
On the day of her presentation, she returned to the classroom in the same button-down shirt and shorts and addressed the audience – both in the room and in watching via a Facebook live.
“I am more than Asian. I am more than a woman. I am more than Letitia Chai,” she said.
“I am a human being, and I ask you to take this leap of faith, to take this next step — or rather this next strip — in our movement and to join me in revealing to each other and seeing each other for who we truly are: members of the human race.”
Letitia proceeded to take off her clothes and encourage those present to do the same. The campus paper reports that just over half the people in the room followed suit and stripped.
“We are so triumphant, but most importantly, we are equals,” she said.
“I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress,” Letitia’s professor said in an email to the campus paper. “I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decisions.”
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