So what are students wearing on campus… really? To find out the answer to this question, I scoured James Dunn Hall, the Great Hall and both courtyards at St. Thomas University with The Aquinian’s Jacob Moore by my side, camera in hand. We spent the last two weeks observing, talking to and taking pictures of students.
On my trek around campus, I quickly noticed how differently STU students dressed compared to those who attend the University of New Brunswick.
Third-year students Lyndia Belczewski and Emily Kingston both study math at UNB but also take classes at STU. When Belczewski dresses for class at UNB, she usually wears sweatpants and a hoodie — a common uniform in her degree.
“Your mental health, your sleep schedule, your overall nutrition — the only thing you have control over is to be comfortable,” said Belczewski.
When Belczewski and Kingston attend a digital literacy class at STU once a week, they both see a difference in how they dress.
“We had a presentation in front of everyone today actually, so we want to look more presentable,” said Kingston.
Kingston said their STU class has more discussion and interaction than their UNB math classes, which means they have to draw attention to themselves more.
“It’s different, it’s liberal arts,” added Belczewski.
STU students’ echoed this same impression of their campus. Lauren Hayes, a second-year STU student, wore a corduroy puffer jacket over a sweater-turtleneck combo.
Hayes said she dresses up depending on her schedule and will wear something nice to feel good.
“When I came to university, I figured everyone would just be in loungewear most of the time, but it’s nice to see people dress up,” she said.
Olivia Gould, a first-year STU student, said when she walks into a study space at UNB, she sees a sea of sweats.
“Here [at STU], you can very much tell people are artsy.”
Gould wore a cardigan that belonged to her grandmother, a flowery scarf, jeans and Doc Marten boots — which she deemed a “queer staple.”
The liberal arts student urge to dress up for school is explained by Danielle England, a fourth-year student who wore a multi-coloured sweater with ripped denim. She said having a good outfit when she comes to school makes her feel motivated.
“I just feel more productive when I look the part I guess,” said England.
For third-year student Maddy Leblanc and second-year student Allie White, “looking nice” means jeans instead of sweats.
“If I need to have a more productive day, I’ll get dressed in jeans and a nice shirt,” said Leblanc, who wore Lululemon leggings and a vest.
For others, dressing up is more intricate — like a carefully thought out colour scheme.
Theo Saulis, a third-year student, explained that dressing up can be a way of making friends at STU on campus.
“That’s how I’ve made a few of my friends, they’ve complimented me on my hair or my style and we’ve gotten closer.”
Saulis sometimes comes to campus in sweats, but on this day. He had rhinestones on his face and was wearing a shirt he got off RedBubble with jeans and Blundstones. He accessorized with necklaces and rings.
“I tried to make my makeup match my hair today because I was like, ‘I’m going to romanticize doing my schoolwork,’” he said.
First-year student Emmanuelle Jackson has always been interested in fashion and sees all kinds of interesting outfits on campus. Jackson said a class debate gave them an excuse to dress up today.
“I’m wearing a yellow cropped sweater and jean overalls, some white sneakers that I love [and] … I have a matching yellow bucket [hat] to match the sweater I have on — I like spring colours.”
It seems that students feel a sense of freedom to dress however they’d like on STU campus purely because they see other students do the same. Since coming to STU, first-year student James Lockyer, who wore a purple shirt and a black ruffled skirt, said that people at STU are more creative with how they dress compared to other places he’s lived.
“I’ve always usually been one of the only people that dresses kind of odd,” said Lockyer. “It’s nice to not be the only one here.”