CON: Inconsistency In Dress Code and In Cooperation

by Michaela O’Donnell ‘13


I was casually walking by the main office when a staff member stopped me going into first period. She said that my shirt’s straps were inappropriate because they were too thin, and led me to the main office where I waited until a security officer came and gave me a XXL tee-shirt. When I asked, they had to figure out if I was allowed to receive a smaller size or borrow a sweatshirt from a friend. They also had to figure out a way to make sure they got the shirt back. They finally agreed that I was to trade something of value, which was my iPod, for the hideous tee-shirt. To make sure I changed, they stood outside the bathroom. Later that day, I saw another girl wearing the exact same shirt with the “inappropriate straps” that I was wearing that morning.

At the time I didn’t find it at all funny, but now I look back at my predicament amused by their inconsistency. I wondered if they handled other dress code violators in the same disorganized way, and after talking to a few fellow violators, it seems that most incidents are handled just as chaotically as mine.

I attended private schools for elementary and middle school, and the only thing I needed to worry about then was if my uniform shirt was tucked in. Most students didn’t mind wearing uniforms because they weren’t accustomed to any other way. Just as importantly, it’s easy to follow a dress code when you know exactly what you can and cannot wear and the punishments that go along with violating the rules. Students in public schools, however, wear regular clothing and have more freedom. There are the obvious and common sense rules, such as no midriffs showing, that nobody in their right mind would wear to school, but then there are the detailed rules that will get you in equally as much trouble. These regulations include violations against tank tops with too thin of straps or shorts that are too short. What doesn’t make sense is why a couple centimeters of fabric added to make the clothing slightly thicker or longer suddenly make the shirt or shorts more appropriate.

In the agenda book, it lists vague punishments for poorly detailed dress code rules. What that says to me is maybe offenders will get a detention or maybe they will get a referral or just maybe they’ll be suspended. Well, which one is it? I know that if I wear clothing that violates the dress code I will receive punishment, but it will be difficult to obey the dress code if I don’t know what it is or the punishments for each violation.

The solution to this lack of clarity is to get rid of the dress code. If the authorities cannot have a consistent system of enforcement, then we cannot be expected to follow such a faulty system. The rules of day-to-day dressing are obvious and would be obeyed even in the absence of school rules. You don’t see teenage girls walking around the grocery store revealing their midriff or teenage boys going on an outing with their families with a bong on their shirt. The dreadfully vulgar clothes the administration fears we will wear will not be an issue because any student who has any respect for themselves and others will never own or wear something of that nature.

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