A new dress-code policy has started this year, and some students aren’t happy about it.
Last year, a student’s parents received an email only if their child had three dress-code infractions in a quarter. This year, however, parents are emailed if their child doesn’t have another set of appropriate clothes to change into at school, no matter the number of offenses.
Patricia Jacobsen, dean of student life, says the new policy is more efficient.
“Because of the policy, the number of repeat offenders is much lower; there are almost no repeat offenders,” she said.
She said that in the past, parents were never fully aware of what clothes could cause their children to be dress-coded.
Most violations occur during the beginning of school due to the heat, according to Jacobsen.
“Girls start to wear too-short shorts, shirts that expose their midriff and spaghetti straps,” she explained.
English teacher Jane Bauman, who often reports violations, agrees.
“The weather has a huge influence on dress codes,” Bauman said. “In the winter, girls are more covered up.”
How teachers dress-code students has also changed over the years.
Bauman calls the process more “streamlined.”
Before, teachers put dress-code violations into PCR (the school’s information tracking program), and someone would have to look at the posted violations to talk to the student about their clothes.
Now teachers email Jacobsen directly, asking her to go talk to the student and decide whether or not the student is breaking dress code. If the student’s attire is deemed inappropriate, then their dress-code violation is recorded in PCR.
According to Jacobsen, before this new system, students with questionable outfits would be “bombarded” with remarks because teachers had no way of knowing whether or not a student had been dress-coded already by another teacher.
Jacobsen said that having one teacher designated for talking to students about their dress is the best method.
Although the dress code applies to both boys and girls, usually only girls receive comments about their clothes, Jacobsen added. Boys are dress-coded only for sagging shorts or pants, revealing “bro” tanks, and inappropriate slogans on their shirts.
Jacobsen said she’s had to dress-code only two boys in her entire career, one of whom was dress-coded last year.
That student wore a shirt with an inappropriate reference to alcohol, she said.
In a Sept. 29 poll, not a single high-school boy reported having been dress-coded, while 35 girls said they’d been dress-coded at least once.
One senior girl said that girls are intrinsically more likely to be dress-coded. She’s been dress-coded in the past for exposed bra straps, shoulder and midriff, and short shorts.
“I’ve been dress-coded every year of high school,” she said. “I don’t understand the big deal about exposed bra straps. It’s better than the alternative of wearing no bra.”
Students say they’re unhappy with the manner in which they are notified.
At the beginning of the year, senior Amelia Fineberg was dress-coded for the first time for wearing short shorts. However, instead of being told in person, she learned of her violation after receiving an email that included her parents.
“I wish I was given the opportunity to change out of my clothes,” Fineberg said. “Admittedly, I didn’t have a change of clothes that day, but I could’ve figured something out.
“I think dress code is unfair, but in my favor,” she said. “Certain body types, such as curvier figures, are definitely more dress-coded than others.”
The senior girl agrees.
“It’s not that teachers intentionally target these body types,” she said, “but rather, it’s easier for these body types to be dress-coded because there’s more there to notice.”
—By Katia Dahmani