Two generous donations of men’s ties and women’s business suits are replenishing the inventory at MTSU’s Raiders’ Closet as fall semester approaches.
The nonprofit service for students searching for the right outfit to wear on job interviews recently received about 120 ties from St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro.
“For Father’s Day, the family ministries team of St. Mark’s UMC sponsored a tie collection called ‘Tie One On’ where we invited folks to bring ties to lay on the altar in honor of their dads with the intent that the ties would be donated to Raiders’ Closet,” wrote the Rev. Martha Hicks Touchton, the church’s minister of education, in an email.
In addition, Office Professionals of Tennessee, a new office workers’ organization, contributed a trunk full of women’s clothes to the closet at its April 23 educational seminar and adopted the closet as its official charity.
Virginia Hemby-Grubb, a professor in the Department of Marketing in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, created Raiders’ Closet to provide free suits to students with a limit of one per person. She had noticed that not even business majors understood what sort of apparel is appropriate to wear in professional environments.
Hemby-Grubb said members of the Office of Professionals of Tennessee, including clerks, receptionists and secretaries, are constantly stunned to see job applicants enter their offices in casual clothing.
“They said, ‘We’ve seen some of these folks come for interviews, and we thought my goodness, do they not have a class where somebody tells them to wear a suit or where somebody tells them you need to wear a shirt that doesn’t look like you slept in it?’” said Hemby-Grubb.
Skip Grubb, Virginia’s husband and an MTSU student majoring in business education, was a student worker at the closet for one year. The former police officer came away with some amazing anecdotes.
“I did have a little girl who came in and got a dark suit, and it fit,” Grubb said. “But the skirt came down below her knee. And she looked at me and said, ‘Do you think this is too, I don’t know, Mormonish?”
Grubb expressed astonishment at some students’ lack of experience and sophistication in selecting clothing.
“A lot of young men come in here and have no idea what size they wear, no idea what size shirt, no idea what size jacket,” said Grubb. “Generally, what they do is get small, medium or large. You ask them what size their inseam is, they have no clue.”
On the other hand, the experience was an education for Grubb, as well. He said a young woman told him that her size was 6P. Grubb said he had no idea that the “P” stood for “petite” because men don’t have petite sizes.
Hemby-Grubb pointed out that Raiders’ Closet is a totally separate endeavor from the Clothing Our Educators Boutique sponsored by the College of Education, which offers business casual clothing for student teachers only.
For more information about Raiders’ Closet or to make a donation, contact Hemby-Grubb at 615-898-2369 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Jaye Kiblinger, executive aide in the Department of Marketing, at 615-898-2902 or email@example.com.
— Gina Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)