Brazil college backs down on mini-dress expulsion
A woman expelled for wearing a mini-dress that caused a near riot at a Brazilian college and made her an Internet sensation said all she wants is to go back to school. Well, she got her way, AP reported.
Geisy Arruda, a 20-year-old tourism student, can return to the classroom after Bandeirante University reversed its decision to expel her following a flood of negative reaction in a nation known for tiny bikinis, beaches and Carnival.
The dean of the private college in suburban Sao Paulo released a statement Monday announcing the reversal, without saying why it had decided to let her back in.
One of Arruda's lawyers, Nehemias Domingos de Melo, said Arruda had not been officially notified of the decision to reinstate her. He said he remained cautious about the prospects of her going back to school.
"She can only return with some safety guarantees," he told reporters.
Arruda has not made any public statements since the university announced she was allowed to return to classes, but said previously she would be afraid to go back. Melo said she has been contacted by two other colleges offering her a full scholarship.
Videos of students ridiculing and cursing Arruda for her short outfit turned up on the Web, and quickly made headlines across Brazil and drew attention around the world to the Oct. 22 incident.
Arruda was forced to put on a professor's white coat to cover her short, pink dress and was escorted away by police amid a hail of insults by students, some of whom shouted "whore."
Arruda said just before Monday's decision that she was humiliated by the experience and was never warned by university officials that her dress was too racy, according to the private Agencia Estado news agency.
"If a security guard or a professor had told me something I would have humbly returned home and changed my clothes," she said, accompanied by seven lawyers at a packed press conference.
Her expulsion prompted complaints from the national student union and Brazil's minister in charge of women's policy, along with a demand from the Education Ministry that the university explain why it had kicked her out.
The student union released a statement Tuesday praising the decision to reinstate Arruda. The group organized a small protest Monday night that was booed by some other students who were attending classes and were not happy with the noise, Brazilian media reported.
Several Brazilian celebrities showed their support for Arruda by using the color pink on the frame of their Twitter photos, as well as writing messages condemning the university's decision to expel her.
Although Brazil is known for revealing clothing - especially in beach cities, where many bikinis are referred to locally as "dental floss" - most college students dress more modestly on campus, commonly in jeans and T-shirts.
The university published newspaper advertisements Sunday saying it expelled Arruda for disrespecting "ethical principles, academic dignity and morality."
The ads also alleged Arruda acted in a provocative manner incompatible with the university's environment.
University lawyer Decio Lencioni told Globo TV that the institution was merely following its rules.
"The problem is not her clothes," he said. "It's her behavior, her attitude."
Lencioni and the university alleged Arruda even raised her dress and stopped to pose for photos the night she wore the short dress on campus. He said she also chose the longest way to get to class to attract the attention of more students.
Arruda vehemently denied the claim, saying, "It's a big lie that I raised the dress," Agencia Estado reported.
In Sunday's ads, titled "Educational Responsibility," the college said it had previously warned Arruda to change her behavior and decided to expel her after talking to students, staff and Arruda.
"I always dressed in a way that makes me feel good and that doesn't offend anybody," Arruda said during an interview with Brazil's Globo TV. "I was always like that and was never recriminated by anybody."
Civil police in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo outside Sao Paulo, where the university is located, said they will investigate the students accused of heckling Arruda. The university said some will be suspended.