DRESS CODE: THE PRICE OF UNIFORMS AND KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE

DRESS CODE: THE PRICE OF UNIFORMS AND KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE

By: Anne Greene

Dress codes and uniforms have been a largely accepted part of school for quite some time, but in recent years it has become a point of contention. With many dress codes stifling girls in particular, it seems dress codes might soon be a thing of the past. However, according to Mrs. Graves not for Pin Oak. Pin Oaks’ dress code states that students must wear a collared polo shirt in royal blue, gray, or white tucked into shorts, pants, or skirts for girls, among other technicalities.

People have always cared about what they wear, but in recent years, studies have been conducted, finding that “enclothed cognition”-the idea that what you wear affects how you feel- is definitely affecting people. In a TED talk by Mindy Scheier she spoke about her son with a degenerative disease, muscular dystrophy, and how it made him feel to have to wear clothing that didn’t make him feel good about himself. It makes kids acutely aware of what we’re wearing and what other people are seeing when they wear clothing they don’t feel good in.

In an interview with India Helzer, this past fall semester, Mrs. Graves stated that the color of Pin Oak shirts and jackets, as well as rules against excessively baggy clothing, were safety aspects of dress code. The ability to easily scan large crowds of students for possible intruders or anyone who doesn’t belong is important to campus safety and is the reason we have to wear grey, blue, or white shirts. Mrs. Graves stated that she doesn’t believe that Pin Oaks’ dress code sets us apart from the norm of dress codes, but according to the student dress codes on Pershing and Lanier’s websites neither Pershing nor Lanier are required to tuck in their shirts.

As eighth graders in particular are significantly farther along in physical development it becomes harder and harder to find dress code appropriate options. Many boys complain about the dress code as well and don’t enjoy having to tuck their shirts in, or to have to wear a uniform in general, but the boys typically wear khaki shorts which can be easily found in most stores that sell men’s clothing.  Many eighth grade girls in particular find that the school polo shirts are too short to be tucked in, and as girls get taller, skirts get shorter. For the most part, uniform style pleated circle skirts aren’t seen in the workplace or on adults in daily life, so there simply aren’t many options for girls who are too big to wear child sizes anymore. Having skirts made or tailored can get expensive, so while Ms. Graves states that due to the school’s wide range of sizes available for purchase every student should be able to find a uniform that will fit, many including me know first hand that there aren’t sizes or styles for everyone.

Mrs. Graves stated that she doesn’t believe students generally feel positively about dress codes, because they’re adolescents and it’s an easy target for frustration with authority. It seems however that students are aware that it’s a problem. The proposition of dropping the collar and tucked in shirts, but still wearing a solid color, similar to Pershing’s dress code has been loosely tossed around among students, especially with the GR8 Election but no one has seriously proposed the idea to Mrs. Graves and she stated she doesn’t believe there will be any major dress code changes at Pin Oak.

Campus safety is an incredibly sensitive and relevant topic in 2018 as there have already been 18 school shootings this year, averaging three a week. The latest having been on February 14th, killing seventeen, all with a legally purchased weapon. As many rally for policy change it seems as if dress codes are a band aid over a huge failure in gun policy, in an increasingly scary school environments. Keeping some form of dress code for safety makes sense. Administrators’ and teachers’ abilities to scan large areas and easily pick out those who don’t belong is valuable as America continues on with a bleak outlook on gun control or more mental health screenings. However when student

So as concerns for safety intensify and student voices grow louder, the dialogue about schools’ practices will have to continue to evolve, but in an ever changing educational, political, and social habitat, many students believe that Pin Oak has a lot of catching up to do in terms of the climate for dress code reform in America today.