Dress code policy revision impacts girls more


Hannah Johnson and Ava Gallagher (Illustration)

Although Dean of Students Judy Cummins said that the new dress code policy is designed to address “How we present ourselves to go to school,” many girls believe that students will challenge the policy. “The rule should have been enforced before now if people are going to take it seriously,” junior Mattie Daub said.

Changes to the Upper School Handbook have left female students struggling to adapt their outfits to new dress code regulations.

Sophomore Cait Gibbons is more concerned with how she will be able to express herself as the dress code gets stricter. “These rules are making people dress more similar,” Gibbons said.

Dress code changes typically occur when new styles emerge. The new rule published in the US Planner in addition to the Handbook reads: …yoga pants and leggings are permitted ONLY if they are covered by a shirt, skirt or dress that reaches to upper thigh.

The Middle School adapted dress code rules last fall to address the issues of leggings and inseams, and — at the time — discussion swirled about US dress on a MS/US campus with many shared spaces.

Judy Cummins, Dean of Students, works with policy and enforcement at the school and understands that “developmentally, students are at different levels. We give seniors privileges we don’t give eighth graders,” Cummins said. “We were really thoughtful of what this means to our community and can we have two sets of values in one school.”

But this new change in dress code seems to bring MS and US expectations in line.

The other items the dress code addresses are undergarments visible to others, including bra straps, underwear shirts and boxer shorts, clothing displaying sexual, drug/alcohol related or offensive slogans or graphics, clothing that elicits negative or unwanted attention (no spaghetti straps, sheer, strapless, racer back or halter-tops; no short shorts or skirts, no tops that display cleavage or expose midriffs), hats in classrooms, dining hall or community gatherings, and pajama pants.

In print, these rules apply equally to all genders. The rules about leggings and sheer or strapless shirts focus on dominantly on female dress while the hats and boxers generally apply to boys.

However, conversation around dress code traditionally gravitates towards what girls can — or more frequently can not — wear.

“They’re oversexualizing girls’ bodies,” by paying such close attention to whether or not fashion is school appropriate,” sophomore Sabrina Brown said.

Brown typically wears leggings five days a week, and buying jeans will be an inconvenience and expensive. “I feel like they’re trying to make us dress up more, but really people are getting lazier. There are a lot more sweatpants already,” Brown said.

Others believe that leggings are not as distracting as other articles of clothing. “Leggings are just pants. If people are distracted by leggings or shorts, they have more of a problem than the people wearing the leggings. Neon colors and words on shirts can be more distracting that wearing slightly revealing pants,” freshman students Sonia Sukumar and Phoebe Pannier said.

“How we present ourselves to go to school is really the issue for me,” Cummins said. “How do we let kids be individuals, and how do we still have a decorum of what we want school to look like?”

When the rule was first announced, many assumed that it was because when girls wore leggings and yoga pants it distracted boys in the classroom setting, and though this has been the reason for other schools enforcing the same rule, Cummins assures that this was not the administration’s motivation.

The dress code states that all clothing must not [present] a distraction from the learning environment for fellow students or faculty.

However, many female students believe that dress regulations are not enforced equally.

“The rule should have been enforced before now if people are going to take it seriously,” junior Mattie Daub said.

“They won’t call out some girls,” sophomore Rachel Hotvedt said. “They’re being unfair with body types.”

With additional reporting from Staff Writer Ali Duval