Student Geisy Arruda poses at her home in Sao Paulo wearing
the same dress that she was expelled for wearing on campus
at Bandeirante University in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil.
(AP Photo/Leticia Moreira/ Folha Imagem)
Brazil's case of the pink mini-dress that went viral on
the Internet has left many scratching their heads: How could it
be that an outfit, no matter how short, would cause such an
uproar in a tropical nation where skimpy clothing and tiny
bikinis barely raise an eyebrow?
The answer, a Bandeirante University official said, is not in
the pink dress, but in how Geisy Arruda, a 20-year-old
tourism student, chose to wear it. In expelling her from the
university - where she has since been reinstated - officials
said she paraded provocatively and raised the dress.
"There are hundreds of girls wearing miniskirts on this
campus every day, and nothing has ever happened," Vice Dean
Ellis Brown said at a news conference. "The size of the dress
was never discussed - her behaviour was."
Arruda has vehemently denied acting provocatively, telling
the private Agencia Estado news agency: "It's a big lie that
I raised the dress."
In reversing the decision to expel Arruda, Brown said the
school was opting for educational rather than disciplinary
He said the university was not wrong in its initial decision
because it followed internal rules, but admitted the reaction
in Brazil and around the world played a part in Arruda's
reinstatement. He said the attention was hurting the other
60,000 students at the university.
Maisa dos Santos, 38, a maid in Rio de Janeiro, called the
dustup absurd. She guessed it was the result of different
attitudes in Sao Paulo, known in normally carefree Brazil as
a city that is all work, no play.
"The people in Sao Paulo, they're just squares. There was
nothing wrong with that girl's dress," Santos said. "If I had
a body like hers, I'd show it off, too. Besides, here in Rio,
it's too hot to wear much clothing."
Some who studied with Arruda confirmed the school's view that
the dress was never the problem.
"She extrapolated," 22-year-old engineering student Adriana
Santiago said. "It wasn't normal the way she was acting that
day and it wasn't normal how she acted before. It wasn't a
surprise it happened."
Brown didn't say if or when Arruda would return to the
university. She has not made any public statements since
Arruda said previously she would be afraid to go back.
Her lawyer, Nehemias Domingos de Melo, said there must be
safety guarantees for Arruda to return. Earlier, he had said
that she had been contacted by two other colleges offering
her a full scholarship, but Tuesday afternoon he told the O
Globo newspaper those were apparently fake phone calls.
Brown said that if she came back, the school would monitor
the situation to make sure she could safely study, but he
provided no details.
Videos of students ridiculing and cursing Arruda turned up on
the web, quickly made headlines across Brazil and drew
attention around the world to the October 22 incident.
Arruda was forced to put on a professor's white lab coat to
cover her short, pink dress and was escorted away by police
amid a hail of insults by students, some chanting "whore,