The Office of Student Life is cautioning students against working at Hooters, a restaurant known for sexualizing its servers, which will open a nearby location in January.
Dr. Chris Riley, vice president for Student Life, urged students to consider what the Hooters business represents, in response to a request for a statement from The Optimist.
“As Jesus followers, I think we have to consider what Hooters reflects about how we value others,” said Riley in an email, “and whether we see them as more than ‘products’ to be sold.”
Female servers at Hooters, referred to by the chain as “Hooter Girls,” wear a uniform that consists of short nylon orange runner’s shorts and typically revealing tight white tank tops.
The city of Abilene Planning and Zoning Department does not consider Hooters to be a sexually-oriented business. Shawn Earl, commercial plans examiner for the department, said the city issued the restaurant a regular restaurant permit.
“If they had any nudity or toplessness, that would fall in a different category,” Earl said. “Because they are fully-clothed, it’s just a standard restaurant.”
Although the city considers Hooters a standard restaurant, Riley said the business has a primary purpose to provide sexual recreation and cited a 2004 district court case, Hooters v. Winghouse.
The judge in that case wrote: “Hooters has admitted that the Hooters Girl’s predominant function is to provide vicarious sexual recreation, to titillate, entice, and arouse male customers’ fantasies. She is the very essence of Hooters’ business.”
The Student Handbook, which all students agree to follow when they enroll, gives guidelines for student conduct on and 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,” Riley said.
Riley and Mark Lewis, dean of students, said they will consider how the student handbook will apply to students who choose to go to the restaurant as customers.
A spokesperson for the Hooters corporation confirmed the new restaurant, located on East Overland Trail near Lowe’s Home Improvement, will open at the end of January.