Are dress codes fair?


Anna Berges, Staff Writer

As dress codes have been getting stricter each school year, enforcement of rules and standards by the administration has been targeted inconsistently. Typically, dress codes are made to “minimize distraction” while promoting a more serious school atmosphere. Shoulders are to be covered, and pants are supposed to be finger-tip length. However, different body types and figures, as well as height can limit each student differently.

As far as inconsistency, one student could go their entire school year without being called out for breaking the dress code policies, while another student could be called out time after time. This is unfair, as if it applies to one, it should apply to all.

Thomas Sites, principal of Stephen Decatur High School, addressed his views on the dress code.

“When you are at the beach, there is a certain attire that you wear. But when you get up and say you go to the store to get a drink, what do you do? You cover up,”  Sites said.

He connects this with the idea that when you enter school, you are entering a place where you want to be addressed appropriately.

“School is a place where you learn. We do not want spaghetti straps or belly shirts, or inappropriate sayings on your shirt,” Sites added. “The shorts in terms of the length, as long as it is covering, I do not go too crazy.”

As it is known that we need some sort of dress code to be established, some believe it should be to a certain extent. Administration needs to be on the same page of what they think is appropriate, and what they think is unacceptable in a learning environment.

“I think that the dress is completely unfair because it is only targeted towards girls, and the teachers pick and choose when they feel like calling you out,” said Senior Erin Riccio.

When teachers call out students for breaking the code, usually they are told to change or given gym clothes. Not only is the time taken to do this taking away from academics, but this can make students rebel against the given rules, which completely takes away the idea.

Dress codes can be seen as a way of teaching young women that their bodies are to be hidden. Portraying shoulders as “distracting” is believed to be objectifying.

Nowadays, clothing racks in stores are different than they were a couple years back. Shirts seem to be shorter, and jeans seem to have more rips.

“We’re not in the 1800s. Knee skirts and shorts are pretty much impractical,” said Senior Abby Stone.

Finding shorts that even go past your fingers can be a struggle to find. Different people have different arm lengths as well, so that rule can vary.

“I feel that the dress code is sexist and is an infringement on freedom,” said Junior Maddy Grinnan.

With Decatur’s student count being more than 1,400, it is definitely not easy for all dress code breakers to be noticed by an administrator, let alone for all teachers to have the same view point on it.

These rules also seem to prioritize boys’ classroom needs. Limiting the skin shown on your legs up to the skin shown on your shoulders because it is “distracting to male students,” implies that their education is more important and valued. Many believe these rules need to be modified to be more gender neutral, so that girls are not the big idea of the policies.

Dress codes are not only subjective, they are also difficult to be enforced. Although every school needs some type of dress code to be put into place, there are other ways to do it that do not target girls and their bodies.