Dress Code Not Changing Anytime Soon

Perception of enforcement riles students

February 5, 2018


Many kids throughout high school complain about things; homework, after school practices, presentations and projects. One large thing that hears many complaints is something that may not really seem to have anything to do with academics, but is still important to the school day: dress code. 

Yes, it’s dress code. Across the country, more than half of schools have a dress code that is followed, while 57 percent of high schools have somewhat of a “strict” dress code, according to USA Today. Dress codes come in many different forms, such as what to wear to school, what to wear to dances, and even what to wear to graduation.

“It used to be that graduation gowns were different colors for girls and boys,” said Assistant Principal Tanya Pickett.

Since the girls would have to wear white gowns, they would have to wear more neutral colors, so as not to have bright or neon colors show through the gown. Since then, the gowns were changed to all blue, but that doesn’t mean that the graduation dress code doesn’t separate the genders.

  • Ladies: Appropriate dress would include a dress or skirt and blouse, no pants/jeans. Neutral or pastel colors are recommended, no bright or neon colors. Shoes – Dress shoes with strap on back, no bright colors. Flats or heels 2 inches or less are recommended for safety concerns. No casual sandals or flip flops.  Cap, gown, and tassel (tassel right side.) Purses and valuables should be left with your parents as there is no place to secure them and you cannot carry them with you.
  • Gentlemen:     Plain dress slacks (dark is recommended), not jeans, a dress shirt and tie (neutral or pastel colored is recommended), dark socks and dark shoes (no gym shoes, sandals or flip flops.)  Cap, gown, and tassel (tassel right side.)
    • Appropriate Dress for Graduation-2017 Carroll High School

“I think we want to stick with the decorum of the event, and we want to keep as ceremonial event that we can,” said Assistant Principal Tanya Pickett. “It’s a formal event, and we want to keep graduation as a dressier event for students.”

According to Assistant Principal Courtney Veith, there were a certain amount of female students who did wear dress slacks to graduation and were permitted to walk across stage to get their diploma, even though the dress code did not permit it.

Other than graduation dress code, there are a large number of dress code violations available for students. Shorts have to be at mid thigh, as well as skirts or dresses before they are allowed to be worn with leggings. All shirts have to have capped sleeves, and all skirts and dresses have to be four or less inches above the knee; any higher and they are considered a dress code. All pants must be worn at or above the hip, and no sleep wear is permitted. All gang and other dangerous references on clothing are not allowed.

There is more within the pages of the Carroll handbook, but this just shows some of the basics. This dress code is very important to the basis of some important professional standings, according to Mrs. Veith.

“Dress code for work, so when you’re going to school it’s much in the same sense,” said Mrs. Veith. “You have to dress appropriately within the situation.”

Dressing for the situation is also very important for school. Mrs. Veith thinks that the way you dress, or “dressing for success” can really affect the learning of a teen. She says that if a student dresses in a way professional for school, there is a larger possibility that they will succeed in having a productive and professional day.

Though Carroll dress code is strict, some schools around us may not have as much of a school conversation about dress code.

“We have a dress code which is shorts fingertip length, nothing too revealing such as crop tops and no rips in jeans higher than fingertip length,” said Junior Haley Miracle, who attends Northrop High School. “It’s not enforced very much.”

Miracle said that the dress code does not really affect her learning environment very much, and that kids should be allowed to wear what they want to school, especially during the warmer months.

“My school doesn’t have air conditioning so it’s extremely hot in the summer and you should be able to wear shorts and tank tops” said Haley.

Another student from a different school also commented that dress code is not strictly enforced where he goes. Colin Yoder, who attends Leo High school also said that it really doesn’t matter to him what people wear to school.

“Personally I don’t really care what people wear, it shows the type of person they are” said Colin.

So should Carroll dress code be enforced as much as it seems to be? According to Assistant Principal Courtney Veith, there are only about 10-20 dress codes that come into the office per week.

“There are probably more students wearing dress codes throughout the week,” said Mrs. Veith. “I’m not wanting to chase kids I see down the hall every time I see one.”

Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, Mrs. Pickett said that the amount of punishments throughout the school year only happened to be three detentions and one out of school suspension. These larger punishments may not happen very often, but the amount of time spent in offices waiting for parents to bring clothes in from home takes a lot of time, and this time is coming directly out of the education that school is supposed to give kids.

Though Pickett said that they try to get kids in and out of the office quickly and back to class as fast as possible, there are many kids who have stayed in the office parts of their lunch periods and long amount of class time.

Take Sophomore Sarah Hauser, for example. Sarah is on the school’s soccer team, and many times throughout the season, the team will dress up on game days. During freshman year, Sarah wore a dress to school the day of a soccer game, and received a dress code.

“A teacher saw me in the hallway and was uncomfortable with what I was wearing,” said Sarah. “I missed all of lunch and half of biology and the rest of my day was thrown off course afterwards.”

The school dress code is set in stone to prepare students to dress according to their surroundings, and because many workplaces have dress codes. Is there another way to explain why the dress code may be strict? Is there a point of distraction when students wear dress code to school?

I have never felt that dress codes have affected my own learning,” said Senior Carlee Doorman. “It’s only when I hear people talk about how they got a dress code that day or a teacher feels the need to point it out does dress codes affects my learning.”

If the students are not distracted and learning is only affected when kids are taken out of class, what is the dress code doing to help students in the learning environment?

When students receive a dress code, they have the option to call a parent and have them bring clothes, or get clothes from the school, most of which are neon nation shirts or baggy pants. The only pair that are considered medium in the dress code closet when I went to look was a wrinkled pair of bright red capri pants.

Though the dress code has a good amount of restrictions, Mrs. Veith said that within the past eight years she has worked at Carroll, there have been some improvements to make things a little bit easier for the students.

When I first got to Carroll there were no yoga pants, no leggings at all, and no holes in jeans,” said Mrs. Veith. “Since then, we have really tried to work with students in regards to the dress code, with today’s fashion styles still available for students to wear.”

Both Principals Brandon Bitting and Mrs. Pickett think that the current Carroll dress code is fine the way it is.

“I think the dress code is in line with where it needs to be,” said Mr. Bitting. “We try to keep up with the community’s standard of what they want from school along with trends. But it is more about practicing to go into that next phase, the professional dress model, there’s dress codes in a lot of jobs, and how you present yourself does represent who you are. As you go into the workplace, you’ll understand there are times to wear appropriate things.”

There really is a dress code at many different jobs, such as food service workers all the way to office workers in the business world. Even at Anthis, where many students, from many schools in Fort Wayne, go to experience jobs firsthand, there is a dress code.

“At Anthis it’s a strict dress code, pants, black boots, black belt, shirt tucked” said Colin. “And I like that a lot better than normal.”

High school is made to better prepare kids to do well in the real world, and having a dress code at Carroll helps set forth those guidelines to better prepare kids to do well at jobs, and dress appropriately for different times.

Dressing appropriately does not necessarily mean the same for everyone though. The dress codes for students differs between boys and girls. The different stylistic choices and different clothing items that boys and girls have does make a dress code harder to make equal in length and weight, but is it sexist?

I think the school’s dress code is sexist in the way that a girl with a dress code is way more likely to get dress coded than a boy with a dress code,” said Freshman Remmington Moeller. “I understand why this is the case – girls just seem to be more of a target because they tend to wear clothes that do not follow the dress code more than boys and that is why some might think it is sexist.”

The girls and boys dress code is very different. They are the very obvious things; girls have regulations on skirts and dresses, along with leggings, while guys have dress codes against sagging and both genders have regulations on things that are allowed to be printed on clothing and tank tops not being allowed at school. There are also things such as having to wear shoes and not wearing hats or coats in the building. But do these differences between the genders make things sexist, or is it just a reflection of styles worn by different people during school hours?

The dress code in its entirety, there are things that apply to both genders, the skirt is more female related, but coverage is the same for both male and female,” said Mr. Bitting. “I would like to say it’s not, but many trends are different between the two genders.”

Because of this difference between the fashion styles of both boys and girls, it is understandable why the dress codes have different standards. The only thing is, girls have to have a lot more because of the controversy over leggings, skirts, and dresses. These differences make it possible that girls are more easily seen wearing a dress code, because the girls dress codes are the ones outlined more in the student handbook.

“I feel like it is [sexist], the dress code is literally designed only for girls” said Carlee.

The dress code does not make any outline of a sexist remark, nor is it created in order to make the girls feel like they are more restricted, but some of those feelings seem to be felt by girls in the school.

While many girls are “chased down” by staff because their skirts are too short, some males wear shorter shorts that may get a dress code if a girl was wearing them. Males have worn tank tops on the last day of school, and throughout the day did not get a dress code. But on the flip side, many ladies were dress coded in one lunch because their dresses for a presentation, where being dressed up was part of the grade, were too short.

The problem may not be that the dress code is sexist, because it alone is not, but it may only be the problem with recognizing that dress codes are an overarching thing, and that standards need to truly be equal, where males are dress coded within the same regard that females are dress coded in. The males may not have some of the same styles as girls, but that does not mean that girls should feel like they are more likely to receive a dress code than their male counterparts.



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