By: Savannah Smith | 05-10-2018 | News
Photo credit: Letitia Chai Facebook

Student Presents Thesis in Underwear to Protest Teacher’s “Clothes-Bashing”

An Ivy League student stripped off in class for her thesis presentation as an act of protest after claiming that her female professor commented that she was wearing shorts that are “too short”’ for public speaking.

18-year-old Letitia Chai said her shocking and seemingly defiant act of a “strip protest” at Cornell University was a symbol that she wanted to stand up “against oppressive beliefs and discrimination.”

Chai was wearing a long-sleeve button-down shirt and denim cut-off shorts in class on Wednesday as she prepared to present a draft of her thesis on rehabilitation for displaced people and refugees when she said the first thing that her professor Rebekak Maggor asked was, “Is that really what you want to wear?”

Chai also claimed that Maggor told her that her shorts were “too short “ and that as a speaker for their class in PMA 3815 Acting in Public: Performance in Everyday Life, she was making a statement through the clothes she chose to wear.

Chai added: “The professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body.”

A male international student in class also spoke and told Chai that as a speaker she has a “moral obligation” to her audience to dress conservatively during her thesis presentation. Offended, Chai left the room, followed by two students who wanted to comfort her.

Chai came back on Saturday to give her full presentation with the surprise act of stripping down to her bra and underwear. She remained in the said state of undress all through-out her presentation.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Student Letitia Chai pictures,removed her clothes in front of teachers and students <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; infowe (@infowe) <a href="">May 10, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Before she started her speech, Chai also encouraged the class to show their solidarity to her “protest” by stripping as well. 28 of the 44 people inside the room slowly removed their clothes until they were also down to their underwear.

The student wrote about her stripping protest experience and posted it on Facebook where it quickly gained attention, garnering over a thousand likes and less than 200 shares.

Due to the buzz Chai’s post created, 11 out of her 14 classmates from her first draft presentation where she clashed with her professor, said the narrative Chai shared on social media “did not accurately reflect events in the classroom. While they are in solidarity with Chai’s strip protest later, they also stood by their professor.

The students said Maggor may have committed an “error of phrasing”, but that after Chai walked out of the room following their clash, the professor “apologized to the class for her choice of words” and also acknowledged that the “notion of ‘short shorts ‘on women carries a lot of cultural and political baggage.”

Chai also said she was raised by a “feminist mother” who as a gender and sexuality professor is “fine with her shorts.”

Maggor who was at one point hit for being “white” clarified in a statement sent to media: “I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress. I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decision.”

Maggor’s class does not have a formal dress code, but according to their course syllabus, students are asked to “’dress appropriately for the persona they will present.”

The other students described Maggor in their statement as “a gift to Cornell.”

Chai countered that it was not her intention to go after her professor but simply to raise awareness about the said “huge societal issue.”

Social media users aired their various opinions and views on what Chai did.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#letitiachai</a> though you may not like it, being 18 and all, but people judging your appearance as an indication of your professionalism and seriousness is the way the world works. It isn’t <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#oppression</a> it’s called being a fucking adult. Your professor was right. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cornell</a></p>&mdash; jp (@kylebasa) <a href="">May 9, 2018</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">If <a href="">@letitiachai</a> had the courage of her convictions…it would have been sans all garments.</p>&mdash; Riccardo Palagi (@iamricpalagi) <a href="">May 9, 2018</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Letitia Chai asked a (male) professor to join her sympathy-strip. Since the <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TitleIX</a> office is already investigating her (female) professor, why not also investigate Chai for sexual harassment? <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; The College Fix (@CollegeFix) <a href="">May 7, 2018</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I applaud <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetitiaChai</a> for having the courage to do this. It&#39;s one thing for the professor to ask about her choice of clothing. But the &quot;would your mother be proud?&quot; shows how many women have blindly adopted patriarchal dictates of what is and isn&#39;t considered appropriate attire.</p>&mdash; divaD (@ItsdivaD) <a href="">May 10, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Twitter: #MAGA #KeepAmericaGreat! #CornellUniversity #StripProtest #DressCode #Feminism #ShockingNews

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4 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 25637 2018-05-10 : 14:08

Well, was she expelled?

Dawn Ford No. 25644 2018-05-10 : 14:43

Students are clearly demonstrating their rights and will not accept oppression or discrimination. They are leading the way for the youth behind them.

Jolle No. 25648 2018-05-10 : 15:46

She has no idea what Oppression really is… She has confused suggestion & Oppression, two very different terms…

Anonymous No. 25651 2018-05-10 : 16:14

What has she achieved by that stunt? She just got swayed by all those liberal talk.

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