Student strips down to underwear after her professor questions her outfit
Most college students find a group presentation pretty embarrassing. I can remember a few times when I had to stand up during a seminar and talk to my class about some subject or other, and wanting the group to swallow me up. However, just think about how much more embarrassing it would be to have to do that in your underwear? Sounds pretty mortifying, right? Yet now footage of a college student's thesis has gone viral on social media, after she stripped down to her bra and pants after her tutor made a dismissive comment about her clothes.
Letitia Chai, a student at Cornell University, removed her top and shorts in front of her teachers and students during her honor thesis presentation, after her 'Acting in Public' professor Rebekah Maggor allegedly told her that the short-shorts she was wearing were too skimpy for her to be taken seriously during the trial run of the presentation. Letitia then uploaded the video of the incident to social media, where it quickly managed to get a lot of attention.
Commenting on the incident in an interview with The Cornell Daily Sun, Chai stated: "The first thing that the professor said to me was 'is that really what you would wear?' She, a white woman, continued: 'Your shorts are too short.' The professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body. She said I was making a statement by wearing my outfit. I told her that I sure as hell wouldn’t change my statement to make her or anyone else feel more comfortable."
Defending her actions, Professor Rebekah Maggor stated: "I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress. I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decisions." Meanwhile, her fellow students have stated that Maggor repeatedly apologised for her initial comments at the time of her reprimand, and conceded that women wearing shorts often carries a lot of cultural and political baggage.
On social media, the reaction to the exhibitionist stunt was divisive, to say the least. One Twitter user wrote: "I applaud Letitia Chai! Her professor made an assumption about her outfit when presenting her thesis! She then clarified it! I wonder if the professor gave students a dress code when presenting? Good job!" Meanwhile, another person stated: "Cultural degeneracy. Says a lot about your ideas when you can’t get them across without resorting to cheap tactics of seeking attention."
Personally, while I do think that Letitia was brave to make her point about objectification and double standards in dress codes in such a provocative way, I also have a feeling that a lot of people will be looking at a video of a college student in her underwear for all the wrong reasons, and maybe won't take her message to heart ...