A new Hooters restaurant is coming to a West Texas city, but one local Christian university frowns on its female students working at the chain known for scantily clad waitresses, chicken wings, and the slogan “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.”
Abilene Christian University (ACU) has been bracing for the January 15 opening of the restaurant, located less than two miles from campus. In December, Dr. Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life cautioned students against working at Hooters, which he described as being “known for sexualizing its servers.”
In the campus newspaper The Optimist, Riley urged students to consider what Hooters represents given the restaurant chain is recognized for its “Hooter Girls” wearing “short nylon orange runner’s shorts and typically revealing tight white tank tops.”
ACU spokeswoman Emerald Cassidy told Abilene’s KTXS that “we have asked students to consider both what Hooters represents and whether that is something they really want to support in terms of both their faith and the value this model places on women.” She added that the university’s handbook challenges “students to make decisions that ultimately glorify God” whether on or off campus.
“If a student was in a position where the university felt they were not upholding the standards in the handbook, we’d address those issues with that student at that time,” said Cassidy. In response to questioning if female students will face expulsion for working at Hooters or if male students will encounter discipline for frequenting the restaurant, she replied: “All situations would be handled case-by-case.”
The online Student Code of Conduct lists all university policies and regulations that “may apply to all students on or off campus regardless of whether school is in session.” It states that “community life at ACU is a disciplined life” that “reflect biblical principles and traditional Christian teaching and encourage students, staff, and faculty to live lives of holiness, honesty, decency, and civility.”
The handbook names core values as integrity, service, stewardship, involvement, and excellence to “instill within our students strong moral character and wisdom-focused learning manifested through Christ-centered living.” Additionally, the ACU dress code emphasizes that “students are encouraged to reflect their God-given worth and professional aspirations” in their attire. While ACU states there is “nothing shameful about the human body,” they point out the university is a “professional and educational environment seeking to prepare students for their chosen careers.”
The dress code appears to address staff, faculty, and students. It requires that individuals wear well-fitting clothes that cover “private areas” when “sitting, standing, and walking.” No-no’s include any shirts that “reveal chest, torso, or midriff; shorts with less than a three inch inseam and/or revealing skirts or top.” Leggings can only be worn with a top garment that covers the waist and buttocks.
Hooters spokeswoman Sarah Osment responded to ACU’s criticism, saying the restaurant is committed to supporting communities in which they operate. “Over the years, Hooters has raised funds for numerous philanthropic initiatives, including raising more than $4.7 million for breast cancer research and has provided more than $3.1 million in tuition reimbursement to its employees.”
ACU estimated tuition costs for full-time undergraduates in the 2017-18 school year at $43,350. This includes room and board, books and supplies, plus other undisclosed fees. This year, the university enrolled a total of 4,544 students, of which 3,760 are undergraduates.
It remains unknown if any ACU students applied for jobs at the new Hooters.