By Meg Beerling
As dictated by her syllabus, Mary Catherine Fox, Ph.D., asks that ladies and gentlemen respectfully refrain from wearing hats and caps in class.
Fox allows scarves, headbands, and bandanas, but does not like any sort of hat with a brim where she cannot see a student’s face. Fox said she wants to be able to recognize her students when they are not wearing hats.
Fox said that there are several reasons for this request but that it is not a matter of discipline.
She said she first started her request of cap removal after a colleague of hers passed away suddenly. Arthur Flodstrom was a former chair of the English department at SMU and her good friend, and it was always his rule that students not wear hats. Fox described him as a very classy man who always had high standards, so she adopted his rule in honor of him.
Fox said her rule is also a nod to Arnold Palmer, who once said that ladies and gentleman never wear hats inside. It doesn’t seem appropriate, she said.
Fox said it’s a matter of civil decorum. She said it’s good practice for the real world, where it is in bad taste to wear hats indoors. “Preparing students for the outside world is what I’m is here to do as an educator,” she said. “I’m giving you what you’re paying for.”
Fox also said that a student’s attentiveness can be attributed to his or her clothing choices. If a student is wearing a cap that is tilted down over the eyes, then he or she is not active in what is going on in class, said Fox. “It’s hard to know if the student is paying attention.”