After breaking out her new Birkenstocks, freshman Aspen Starling was finally accepted by her peers. Party invitations and approving glances from those who frequent the outdoors have increased dramatically since Starling purchased the final piece of the Bozeman uniform. Her situation is not unique as countless other students respond to the incessant call to conform. This change cannot come soon enough.
In the past, students literally died of embarrassment upon recognizing how uncool their street clothes were. In order to prevent this in the future, Montana Hall has issued a list of the required items. This list reportedly includes all the staples of Bozeman life: a varied assortment of flannels, an Arc’teryx jacket with a Bridger pass conspicuously on display, wool socks paired with Birkenstocks, etc. Incoming students are advised to leave their clothes in the forest overnight to get that “woodsy” smell.
Failure to comply with the Bozeman uniform presents a serious problem as far as student morale is concerned. The introduction of new students in the fall is linked to a severe decrease in overall happiness of the upper classmen. A senior who wished to remain anonymous was quoted saying, “Why did they [freshman] bother coming to Bozeman if they don’t even know the difference between a Black Diamond and a North Face?”
Other students have reported extreme discomfort when making eye contact with someone wearing a sweater without a name brand. These students are purposefully ostracizing themselves to the detriment of their peers. The obvious disdain demonstrated by these self-proclaimed outcasts is interfering with the education process. It becomes virtually impossible to focus on school work when one is occupied with the pressing issue of a stickerless water bottle. Because some students refuse to cover their bodies and material possessions with the brand logos that express common interests, starting a conversation is out of the question. The effort one would have to put into relating to these nonconformists is not equal to the emotional reward of a fulfilling friendship.
Complying with the Bozeman uniform is the one tried and true method of climbing the MSU social rock wall. While it represents a significant financial commitment, this is nothing compared to the superficial interactions one will share with fellow fashion-minded individuals. After being exposed to the wardrobes of the unaccommodating students as well as receiving numerous complaints from students, the administration recently announced a majority of the $300 million fundraiser would go to the College of Student Morale and Fashion Advice. The dean stated this “generous” donation would go straight to REI discounts for fashionably inept students. They expect this new program to lead to better integration of freshmen as well as a more attractive cover photo for the new MSU pamphlet. Not only does dressing according to code have practical benefits but should one actually decide to venture into the wilderness, the uniform doubles as functional exploring clothing. One must be careful with this approach as evidence of too many adventures will incite wild jealousy and ultimately result in a lower social standing.
While the blatant disregard for the dress code by select students is appalling, it is possible that they simply don’t understand the impact they have on others when they wear jeans without a flannel. Not only is their behavior disrespectful to the culture on campus but it puts others in the uncomfortable position of having to openly acknowledge their own superiority. One junior put it this way, “I’m don’t wanna say that they [the dress-code violators] are lowest on the totem pole but I definitely have more respect for myself than to show up looking like that.” It’s time for the community minded to take a stand and put down this flagrant disregard for uniformity to rest once and for all. Every person has a role. Continue to look down on those who spend their money on food and rent rather than Patagonia’s latest jackets. One day soon, they too will finally belong.
President Waldo Cruzaldo was unavailable for comment but it can safely be assumed that she takes serious offense every time she passes someone in non-outdoorsy clothing.