by Scout Van Cise and Hannah Nicholson, editor in chief and opinion editor
On the second day of school, all students were pulled out of class and called into the auditorium by grade level to discuss various school policies and the idea of whether or not school is a fashion show. According to new assistant principal Mrs. Kylene Koper, it is not.
The student handbook says, “Saegertown Jr. – Sr. High School strives to promote a businesslike atmosphere and encourages all to ‘dress for success.’” This implies business casual attire for students and teachers alike. “The dress code prohibits dresses and skirts shorter than a notecard width or two inches above the knee (even with leggings or tights underneath), clothing, piercings, and tattoos that are distracting or interfere with the educational process, shirts with straps narrower than two inches in width, clothing with excessive holes or holes that expose skin higher than two inches above the knee, excessively torn, frayed, or unlaundered clothing, hats, headbands, bandanas, ‘hip hugger’ pants below the navel, chains, and pajama pants with or without pockets. Face makeup and hair ‘must be in accordance with cultural and community standards, and must not attract undue attention, cause a disruption in the classroom, or be considered to be potentially harmful to younger impressionable students.’”
Some students have accused the dresscode of being sexist. Shocking, right, considering that the current policy actually addresses men twice, regarding loose fitting pants and “wife-beaters.” According to Mrs. Koper, “Girls, you have so many opportunities or different things to be able to wear that it becomes an issue. I get that most of the time it may appear sexist because girls have, like I said, so many other opportunities.”
PENNCREST school board policy 221 states, “The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that all rules and procedures implementing this policy impose only the minimum necessary restrictions on the exercise of the student’s taste and individuality.” This clarifies that students do indeed have freedom of expression and are permitted to wear whatever they want within reason. The keyword here is “minimum” restrictions, so is it really necessary for the faculty to whip out a notecard to ensure the length of our dresses and skirts are not an educational distraction? In reality, students are sitting in a desk for the majority of their day anyway, so the length of their dresses and skirts are hardly seen let alone a distraction. Is it necessary to remove students from class if their clothing is deemed inappropriate rather than allow them the education that they are there to receive?
Despite the unpopular changes to the policy, students have found loopholes in the dress code. Many females with holes in their jeans wear leggings or tights underneath to prevent revealing skin. Students are able to wear leggings/yoga pants with a long shirt that covers the front and the back of the upper thigh and hip regions. Hats and pajamas can be worn on designated days organized by the Key Club once per month. Some of the dress code prohibitions are not regularly enforced, so while some students may get caught violating the dress code, others may not be for wearing similar apparel.
The dress code in the official student handbook has not been updated since last year, and the policies are not uniform with what is enforced, causing more unnecessary confusion. Despite what feels to some like excessive interdictions and the targeting of teenage girls, students deserve a clear and consistently enforced code. This poses the question: are we currently being distracted by our dresses, or our are we actually distracted by the dress code itself?
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School