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With tattoos becoming more and more common, even Azusa Pacific faculty and staff are getting inked. Although some agree that tattoos should be work-appropriate and tasteful, these professors and staff members believe the art is acceptable in Christian circles.

The Faculty and Adjunct Faculty handbooks and the university’s Essence Statement don’t even mention tattoos, let alone prohibit them or require them to be covered.

Biblical studies professor Justin Smith has four tattoos: two verses (Job 42:6 and Hebrews 11:1) and the words “self control” and “patience” all written in Greek on his forearms.

It was important for me to have some reminders for where I had been and where I hoped to be going,” Smith said. “There’s a line from a song I like that says something along the lines of, ‘If our bodies are temples, then tattoos are stained-glass windows.'”

Although Smith covers his tattoos at church, he does not feel the need to cover them in class. However, he recognizes tattoos should be appropriate in content.

“My freedom to have tattoos is not a freedom to offend other people. So, from a church perspective I rarely, if ever, wear short-sleeve shirts to church,” Smith said. “Here, I haven’t found it to be much of an issue. However, when I interviewed here, I didn’t interview in a short-sleeve shirt. I wore what was appropriate to an interview and going forward, in interviewing or in contexts where I feel business attire is warranted, then they are easy enough to cover up for that.”

Smith believes that the recent popularity of tattoos has made them more acceptable in a work environment.

“Certainly even 10 years ago, tattooing was viewed much more negatively than it is now,” said Smith. “It’s become much much more a part of popular culture, I suppose, than it was 10 years ago … I think it’s moving away from being stigmatized much much more because I think people are really beginning to view tattoos as art.”

Although most professors and faculty are not required to cover tattoos, staff members working in the admissions office are supposed to cover up their ink.

Campus Recruitment Manager for Undergraduate Admissions Kay Sofranko and Senior Transfer Counselor Joeley Harper both have small tattoos. Sofranko’s is an anchor on the inside of her ankle and Harper’s is her middle name, Hope, on the inside of her wrist.

Both Sofranko and Harper are required to cover their tattoos with Band-Aids, clothing or jewelry. Sofranko said she does not mind covering her tattoos because her job requires that she represent not herself but the university as a whole.

“It’s not really that big of a deal, but it’s also not necessarily difficult to cover,” Sofranko said. “So if it took six Band-Aids then yeah, maybe that would be a little more difficult, but it’s pretty simple.”

Smith, Sofranko and Harper all agree there is a line in certain cases where tattoos can be unprofessional.

“I understand if it was a full sleeve or even half a sleeve, that being more unprofessional, but with ours being so little, I don’t think that it’s a problem,” Harper said.

Sofranko agreed that if the nature of the tattoo is offensive, that would be inappropriate for the workplace.

“Joeley’s is her middle name and mine’s an anchor, and I don’t think either of those would offend someone, but if you had a naked image of a woman on your arm, I could see how that would be completely unprofessional,” Sofranko said. “You have to take it case by case and think, ‘How will this represent that company?'”

Smith offers students four pieces of advice when thinking about tattoos: get tattoos in places that are coverable for work, think long and hard before getting them, never get anyone’s name tattooed, and make sure it is spelled correctly.

“[It is important] to recognize that everyone is not on the same place in this conversation, so don’t do something that is going to potentially close doors for you,” Smith said.