NEW BRUNSWICK — Is navy blue acceptable in business? Not according to the Rutgers Business School, which refused to allow students who were sporting blue or light gray suits, or anything except black shoes, to attend a career fair this week.

The dress code frayed some nerves, according to the student newspaper, The Daily Targum. But a day after defending the policy, Dean Lei Lei apologized to the students.

The flier for the event instructed students to wear a "dark gray or black professional business suit" with matching pants and jacket, a white dress shirt and a "conservative, professional tie with a solid or simple pattern."

Sophomore Kevin Chen wore a dark navy suit to the fair because he learned in business school forums that the color is considered "more professional" than gray, the Targum reported Wednesday.

An online petition posted at Change.org demanding the apology said that "navy is the most popular color on Wall Street for suits. It is very unfortunate that students were turned away from the career fair for committing the crime of being fashionable."

According to the Targum, Rutgers adopted a "gold standard" dress code after concern had been expressed by recruiters regarding the attire worn by Rutgers students.

Lei in a statement apologized to students and offered to make things right.

"After a meeting with the deans on Tuesday Feb. 14, the Office of Career Management in New Brunswick and Newark contacted the affected students to assist them in reconnecting with recruiters. In addition, the deans at Rutgers Business School are scheduled to meet with the affected students next week. A review of the dress code is already underway and will be revised to ensure that it does not exclude students from opportunities to meet with employers in the future," Lei wrote.

Lei said that she regretted what happened at the career fair and that it "cast a shadow over the success we have achieved in helping our students secure meaningful internships and jobs."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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