Zhu starts petition after dress code policy reminder

October 4, 2022


Submitted Photo: Oliver Zhu

SPEAK UP. Junior Oliver Zhu started the petition that was circulated around the student body regarding the dress code. For the crop top signatures, everyone was pretty unanimous… The only reason that people wouldn’t sign it is because they wouldn’t wear crop tops, so it wouldn’t apply to them,” Zhu said.

During an assembly on Sept. 1, Dean of Students Stacy Tepp reminded students to be mindful of the dress code that is outlined in the student handbook. Tepp specifically mentioned that she noticed a fair number of students who weren’t following the rule that prohibits hats indoors, as well as the one that prohibits shirts that expose the navel area.

After the assembly, there was concern that the dress code, which had been loosely enforced in previous years, would start being enforced more rigorously. There was enough student pushback that a petition was created, calling for a change to the code that is outlined in the student handbook. The petition was signed and handed to the dean at the end of that school day.

Junior Oliver Zhu, who initiated the petition, said that he received a lot of support for his idea. “For the crop top signatures, everyone was pretty unanimous… The only reason that people wouldn’t sign it is because they wouldn’t wear crop tops, so it wouldn’t apply to them,” Zhu said. There was less solidarity around hats, however. “For the hat signatures, [the people who wouldn’t sign] would not sign because they felt that there was an explanation for why hats were banned—for security reasons,” Zhu added.

Tepp, who has been in frequent conversation with students is open to potential change. “USC is putting together a committee… and we’d like to get the SILC [Student Intercultural Life Committee] group involved, to make sure we’re including different cultural perspectives [in a potentially revised dress code],” she said. “What [the dress code] looks like here at SPA will come out of these committees and, hopefully, having student leaders lead that conversation along with administration.”

The policy in question


It is each student’s individual responsibility to ensure the dress code standards are met on a daily basis. The Upper School dress code was developed through conversations among students, faculty members and administrators; its purpose is to maintain a standard appropriate for a school environment that satisfies in a respectful way the needs of people from different cultures and generations. All clothing should be neat, clean, and in good repair, and be in accordance with any guidelines set for a particular activity.

The following clothing items are required at all times under the dress code:

  • Shirt or top with sleeve openings that extend no lower than the midway down the ribcage (i.e., fabric in the front, back, and on the sides under the arms)
  • Shirts that extend below the waist, over the navel area
  • Pants, dresses, skirts, or shorts that extend to at least mid-thigh
  • Footwear

The following clothing items are not permitted under the dress code:

  • Undergarments visible to others, except for over-the shoulder bra straps
  • Clothing displaying sexual, drug/alcohol-related, disrespectful phrases or offensive words, graphics, or logos
  • Hats indoors
  • Pajama pants
  • Sheer pants or shirts (unless another item of clothing is worn underneath)
  • Strapless tops

If an SPA adult becomes concerned that an item of clothing is either undermining the spirit of the dress code or not in accordance with the guidelines set above, that adult will contact the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students (or Principal) will be the final judge of appropriate dress in these situations, and hear any disputes or questions the student might have. Repeated violations of the dress code will result in disciplinary action.

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