By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press Writer Tales Azzoni, Associated Press Writer
SAO PAULO – The Brazilian government sought an explanation Monday from the private university that expelled a woman for wearing a short, pink dress to class, creating an uproar on the Internet and throughout a nation where skimpy attire is common.
The Brazilian Education Ministry said it will give Bandeirante University 10 days to clarify its reasoning for kicking out 20-year-old Geisy Arruda after she was ridiculed by other students for going to class with the short dress on Oct. 22. She had to put on a professor's white coat and was escorted away by police amid a hail of insults and curses.
A video of the incident was posted on YouTube and quickly made headlines across Brazil. The university's decision Sunday to expel the student prompted complaints from the national student union and the country's minister in charge of women's policy, among others.
Depending on what the university has to say, the Education Ministry could recommend that it reconsider its decision, Education ministry spokesman Murilo Milhomem said.
The university published newspaper advertisements Sunday saying it expelled Arruda for allegedly disrespecting "ethical principles, academic dignity and morality."
The ads also alleged that Arruda acted in a provocative manner incompatible with the university environment.
"We are following our rules," university lawyer Decio Lencioni told Globo TV. "The problem is not her clothes; it's her behavior, her attitude."
Lencioni and the university said Arruda even raised her dress and stopped to pose for photos the night she was insulted. He said she also chose the longest way to get to class to attract the attention of more students.
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 herself.
Arruda, who was studying tourism, said Monday she was disheartened by the decision.
"What I wanted the most was to go back to school," she told Globo TV. "My entire year is gone now. It's a great injustice. Everyone in Brazil saw the video. I always dressed in a way that makes me feel good and that doesn't offend anybody. I was always like that and was never recriminated by anybody."
Civil police in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo, where the university is located, said they will investigate the students accused of heckling Arruda. The university said it would temporarily suspend some of them.
Brazil's national student union, the Brazilian BAR Association, and several other institutions condemned Arruda's expulsion. Brazil's minister for women's policy, Nilcea Freire, told the official Agencia Brasil news service Sunday that the decision showed "intolerance and discrimination."
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.