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What’s New? The Old Dress Code

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Summer has come to a close, and now that the school year has started, students have been reminded by Dr. Whitcomb during the Senior vs. Faculty Annual Volleyball game that summer clothing will no longer be tolerated and that the dress code is now being reinforced. As a freshman not from the SHS Middle School, this announcement was quite a change and a surprise to hear because my middle school had a not-so-strict dress code in place. This got me thinking about how this would affect SHP students and faculty and whether or not they cared about the dress policy. Most students interviewed preferred only to be identified by their year.

 

Many students haven’t actually read the dress code policy stated in the Student Handbook. Its main rules stated include how tops must have straps and off-the-shoulder tops/dresses are not allowed. For bottoms, the hemline must be long enough to reach fingertip length and cannot be over- or under-sized. Students are not allowed to wear inappropriately sized clothing or pajamas or show “face or body piercing (other than pierced ears and noses) or visible tattoos. Students may wear athletic gear, t-shirts, sweaters, or collared shirts. Slacks/pants/jeans must be neat and worn about the hips. The Family Handbook states “All clothing must be full coverage.” The handbook states that “the school dress code is designed to establish standards of dress that are modest, comfortable, and appropriate for an educational setting. We dress for the serious purpose of work and worship.” 

 

Students interviewed were asked about their overall opinions on the dress code and what they felt needs to be changed. A junior stated, “On paper, I feel that the dress code is pretty strict with its regulations, but usually SHP has been pretty lax about enforcing it, so I don’t think it’s been much of a concern for most people. However, I have heard that it is being enforced more often now and people have been complaining about it. I personally lean towards the belief that one should be able to dress in a manner that they are comfortable with and do find the dress code sometimes restrictive in that sense if it is being enforced often.” A freshman stated: “I don’t know what to say because no one really cares about it that much. Like, I don’t think about the dress code. It’s not like I get dressed in the morning and I’m like ‘oh my God, am I gonna break the dress code today?’ Because I feel like even though the teachers say it’s enforced and everything I still don’t feel it very much present in my life.” 

 

One freshman student interviewed mentioned that clothing is a big part of expressing yourself, and that it wouldn’t do any harm in loosening up the rules. When asked if she believed the dress code is more directed towards girls, she responded, “Yeah, definitely… There have been instances where I saw guys at our school walking around shirtless, and no one says anything. It’s a weird double-standard. I’ve also seen guys wearing, on occasions, sometimes more revealing stuff, like having their chests being shown or wearing things that are very inappropriate for school, but nobody does anything about it, not that I see of. And it’s not listed in the dress code specifically. Because most of those fashions that are in the dress code are targeted to women. So I think that it is female oriented.” But, on paper, the dress code is balanced between attire for girls and boys. One junior agreed, saying “The dress code does contain plenty of regulations that seem to pertain to guys as well, but perhaps it might be that what is restricted in the dress code is more common attire for girls. But… I wouldn’t know cause I’m not a girl.” One sophomore said “Many boys are unaware that the school even has a dress code, so what does that say about the way it targets one gender?” 

 

Next, students were asked how they felt about the length requirement, specifically about the rule that “for shorts/skirts/dresses, the hemline must be long enough to reach fingertip length.” One freshman responded by saying “I get the dress code is like you should obviously not wear things like underwear; things like that make sense. But I think it is a little extreme, especially the skirt length. I don’t agree with that because people like me have really long arms and other people can be shorter which makes it harder to find skirts that are that length, and even if skirts are a little shorter than the fingertips it’s still not exposing anything, not really, it’s just like there.” This may not be fair to all students because everyone is different in height, like how she also mentioned that her fingertips almost touch her knees, making it hard to find skirts and shorts that fit the length requirement. It is difficult for women to find shorts that reach their fingertips, because they are often sold pretty short. 

 

After interviewing members of the SHP community, I realized that I still have mixed feelings about the school dress code. Clothing students wear to school should reflect their own style, but at the same time respect the fact that they are in a professional, school setting. 

 

One issue that could be addressed is how even though there are explanations on the rules, they could be more specific and have more reasonable explanations so students understand the reasoning behind the code. Also, I’ve seen many students who follow the dress code while still able to reflect their own style in the clothing they wear to school. For example, some students choose to wear skorts (generally longer than shorts) or wear thin layers on top of tank tops. This tells me that whether or not you agree with the dress code, there are still ways to represent your style even with these restrictions in effect.

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