Dress code provokes editorial discussion
During the first two weeks of school, administrators have begun a stricter crackdown on the dress code than we have seen in previous years.
Many students were caught off guard by this stricter code, since the rules have not been so rigorously enforced in the past.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board feels there are several problems with this approach.
First, our administration needs to be seen as a united front, and that image is difficult for them to pull off when our male administrators and faculty appear uncomfortable talking in objective terms about the dress code in front of students.
The method chosen for enforcement is also problematic.
During the first week of school, students were greeted as they entered school with a public dress code check.
While we understand this measure was put into place in order to emphasize that all students are receiving equal enforcement, The Wooster Blade Editorial Board believes that publicly calling out students who violate the dress code promotes a culture of shame.
When trusted adults publicly judge students’ choice of dress in front of other students, it invites them to do the same to their peers.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board has since noticed students calling one another out on their choices with comments like, “I can’t believe you didn’t get dress-coded for that,” exemplifying how teenagers model behavior.
While The Wooster Blade Editorial Board recognizes these statements by students are sometimes made sarcastically, they still indicate a problem.
Such enforcement practices have only served to make what students choose to wear a more distracting issue, which is the opposite of what a dress code is intended to do.
The objective of the dress code has been to create a professional environment, according to principal Tyler Kenner in the junior and senior class meeting.
While The Wooster Blade Editorial Board agrees that biology necessitates different standards of clothing for different genders, professionalism can be mostly gender neutral.
Yet, in terms of athletic wear, women still are called out more than men. Currently, most women’s running shorts violate the dress code, while men’s shorts generally do not.
If professionalism is the standard, neither gender should be allowed to wear athletic shorts. Instead, The Wooster Blade Editorial Board suggests that both genders be allowed to wear athletic shorts, as they are loose fitting and not viewed as distracting by most students.
In addition, The Wooster Blade Editorial Board commends the administration’s efforts to enforce the same standards for different body types.
However, in doing so, the administration should amend the outdated handbook in order to create a standard, as currently, the handbook only bans “scooped shirts or any type of shirt/top/blouse that exposes cleavage.”
As The Wooster Blade Editorial Board applauds the administration’s attempts at consistency in enforcement, we suggest that they closely examine the handbook to rid it of the inconsistencies within.
Consider, for example, the “no form-fitting shorts” rule. Students are allowed to wear leggings and yoga pants, which are very form-fitting. Consistently speaking, if those form-fitting shorts had a five-inch inseam they should fit within the acceptable dress code, as should jeans that have holes or rips that fall below the five-inch inseam.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board believes students would be more amenable to a dress code that attempts to keep up with the times.
Some teenagers will always try to wear clothing that is in fashion; administrators cannot change human nature. Updating the dress code to include standards like a fingertip rule for shorts, rather than a five-inch inseam, and a set standard of inches or fingers for how low cut a shirt may be, would increase adherence to the dress code, as students would feel it was fairer.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board believes that dress codes are not inherently problematic. With some minor detail changes to the handbook and a less public style of enforcement, WHS could have a more successful dress code policy.