As the semester gets underway for students at Hampton University, students are once again questioning the controversial ban on cornrows and dreadlocks by administrators in the university’s five-year Master of Business Administration program.

Men enrolled in the university’s program are barred from wearing cornrows or dreadlocks in the program’s seminar classes. The program’s dean, Sid Credle, said he stands behind the ban.

In a statement Credle said, “If you’re going to play baseball, you wear baseball uniforms. If you’re going to play tennis, you wear tennis uniforms.”

He noted several African-American legends such as Charles Drew, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King did not wear dreadlocks or cornrows. The ban has been in place at the university for more than 10 years.

“These students choose to be in this program and aspire to be leaders in the business world. We model these students after the top African-Americans in the business world,” Hampton spokeswoman Naima Ford told Hampton Roads, Va. ABC affiliate WVEC.

In an e-mail statement to the AFRO, university spokeswoman Yuri Rodgers Milligan said the policy on hairstyles applied only to students in a particular one-hour seminar class which is part of one of eight programs in Hampton’s school of business.

The policy for conservative business attire and hairstyles is for a select group of male students enrolled in a seminar class in the five-year MBA program,” the statement read. “Students in the five-year MBA program have a choice between the seminar and another course that does not share the conservative business attire and hairstyle policy.”

In more recent years, natural hair including twist, dreadlocks and afros have become increasingly common in mainstream and corporate society in America. There has been a grassroots movement by African American women to return to the natural state of their hair, largely for health concerns such as alopecia–baldness caused from weaves and extensions–and chemical burns from relaxers.

Hampton University’s ban on dreadlocks and cornrows mirrors a strict enforcement of dress codes at many Historically Black College and Universities to crack down on attire deemed inappropriate for the classroom or the corporate environment.

In 2009, Morehouse College implemented an “Appropriate Attire Policy” for students at the institution barring them from wearing women’s clothing, makeup, high heels and purses as well as no hats worn in the building, sagging pants and walking barefoot across campus.

Morehouse College’s dress code raised questions of the school banning more than simply poor attire, but an expression of dress by students of the gay or homosexual orientation who preferred woman’s attire.

Krishana Davis

AFRO Staff Writers