A Belgian university has apologized after an email was sent to female students suggesting they wear low-cut outfits to a graduation ceremony.
Medical students at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) received the message that asked women to wear “revealing” clothing.
“From an aesthetic point of view,” the message read, “it is better for young women to wear a dress or skirt, and a nice revealing neckline.”
Male students were told that a simple suit would be appropriate wear for the ceremony.
“Of course, ladies, this advice is not obligatory,” the email continued.
Regardless of the intention, the message sparked significant backlash on social media. The university later posted a statement on Facebook and Twitter directed at its medical students to apologize for the email and its suggestions. ULB said the subject matter was inappropriate and did not represent the school’s values.
A screenshot of the message was then shared to the humor-centric Facebook page ULB Confessions, which brought further light to the “little scandal.” The post drew hundreds of responses from students and accusations that ULB was sexist.
Here’s one popular student response:
“No one has the right to tell you how you should feel in your skin. Nobody has the right to tell you how to dress. No one has the right to tell you how to play your role as a woman. No one has the right to take away this freedom that has been (and is still being) obtained with such difficulty.”
Marco Schetgen, the dean of the medicine faculty, told Belgian news outlet RTL that the email was likely sent by a woman as there are no male employees in the secretariat.
“No, it’s not a hoax,” he said, confirming the email had been sent out but adding that it had shocked him too when he found out.