The Free University of Brussels has apologised after the medical faculty of the university sent an email suggesting female students wear low-cut tops to their graduation ceremony. The "sincerest apologies" come after the suggestion caused an outcry on social media.
The email stated that "from an aesthetic point of view, it is preferable if young women wear a dress or a skirt and a nice low neckline. Of course, ladies, this advice is not obligatory." For male graduates, it said, they could wear a suit.
The email was circulated online on the ULB Confessions page on Facebook with the note "a little scandal".
The post garnered over 600 comments ranging from disbelief to anger. Many accused the university of sexism.
One commenter wrote: "Is this a joke? They are graduates of medicine and we're asking them to show their chest?"
Another wrote: "The dress I can understand but the 'nice cleavage' you got a Phd, but who cares, shows your nipples."
The confessions page also published a response it had received from a student: "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."
The dean of the medicine faculty, Marco Schetgen, told Belgian news outlet RTL that the email was said to be sent by a woman as the secretariat did not include any men.
"No, it's not a hoax," he added, confirming the email had been sent out. He also said that it had shocked him too when he found out.