A former nursing student at University of Holy Cross in Louisiana said she felt she had to leave the program because of her natural hair.
Jade Payadue said she always wanted to become a nurse and started clinical rotation at the school in January before leaving.
“I want to see not only changes here, but in every workplace and every university. I don’t want other women to go through what I’ve gone through,” Payadue told NBC’s WDSU 6.
According to the station, the university’s hair policy reads:
When in lab coat or uniform, hair must be neat and may not extend below the bottom of the collar of the lab coat or uniform. Therefore, long hair must be secured above the collar, off the neck and shoulders and appropriately contained at the back of the head. If the hair is ‘put up’ the hair may not be higher than four inches. Hair must be clean with the appearance of being shampooed regularly.
She said that when she was at the school’s ceremony welcoming students she was told that she needed to fix her hair because it was too big.
Payadue met with multiple university officials and was given the option to stay in the school, but would have to sign a contract, attend counseling sessions and placed on probation or she could leave the university without being penalized.
“If I didn’t withdraw from the program and I signed that contract, and they found one reason to expel me from the program, that meant I would not be allowed to enroll in another nursing program, in the state of Louisiana, for five years,” she said.
Payadue wants Holy Cross to change its policy about hair, but the school isn’t budging.
“The hair rule about which a nursing student complained is for the safety of the nursing students,” the school told WDSU 6.
“I’m really concerned about making things different for all black women, all women of color, who are constantly being told the way they were born is not appropriate or not professional,” she said.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.