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Monday, October 15, 2012

Strictest Rule in School

Strictest Rule in School
by Isabel Sneddon
Reporter, Flyer Flash


Every school district has a dress code or dress policy, and every student has grown up hearing the rules of dress deemed appropriate for school: Don’t represent your gang while at school, keep your mustache, beard and/or sideburns clean and groomed, and no dangling belts. These are just three of the plethora of rules that have been enforced among teens have been taught, as they’ve grown from kindergarten all the way to senior year at high school.
Students have a variety of styles here at Dixie that fit
fit within the dress code.
Photo by Tyler Johnson, Flyer Flash alumni

There have been countless debates on dress code requirements and whether or not we should just throw all those rules out the window and adopt a new policy of strictly enforced uniforms.

Students in most public schools have managed to avoid a uniform consisting of khaki’s and a collared tee shirt, and most hold strong to their right to express their individuality by dressing in their favorite skin tight jeans and deep v-neck shirts.

It has been reported that middle-class students feel peer pressure to buy expensive clothing. There also is cliquish behavior exacerbated by differences in what students can afford, and some kids are wearing inappropriately sexualized clothing that isn’t conducive to studying. And according to teachers, the dress code is in place so that students feel comfortable in school.

Recently, Stansbury High School made news when several students were sent home from the Homecoming dance for breaking the dress code. The vaguely written code stated dresses should be “at or near knee length.” But what does “near” knee length mean exactly? Who gets to decide?
Like most students when asked who makes the dress code, senior Alyse Beard replied “I think its Mr. Bergeson and then Mrs. Campbell enforces it.” And when Mrs. Cambell was asked about dress code she said “Thank goodness I don’t (write it); if I had to pick the rules it would be real hard. I just enforce the rules the school board comes up with.”
So Alyse had the part about Mrs. Campbell being the enforcer correct. But the school board is to blame for the many dress code requirements.
Opponents to the dress code believe uniforms squash creativity and free expression and worry that unfairly strict codes could prevent students from expressing their religious or political beliefs (In fact, the law requires that religious garb like yarmulkes and head scarves cannot be prohibited, and expressive gear like political buttons is allowed unless it interferes with the rights of others, as with gang insignia.).
“Without boundaries, school could turn into something really weird, really quick,” said Mrs. Campbell. “The dress code policy is in place so that all students feel comfortable and remain focused.”
Dress code is even strictly enforced on Halloween.
Photo by Shaun Smith, The Dixie Blog

It seems, that the dress code this year has been rather hard to enforce for administrators. Teens left and right are breaking the rules. Tank tops, hats, and short shorts are paraded down the hallways between classes. Mrs. Cambell said that she normally sees about four students a day, mostly girls breaking the dress code restrictions.
When senior boys Taylor Riggs and Tristan Cowles were asked how they felt about the dress code they responded, "Dress code is the last thing on my mind."
The first few weeks of school, Dixie’s morning announcements mentioned something about dress code, an update on the rules, saying that code breakers WILL be sent home, or asking all students to please respect and follow the rules.
Mrs. Cambell will be grateful when the cold weather finally comes around, because the short shorts turn into long jeans and deep v-necks are covered with jackets and sweaters.
Perhaps the current dress code, which has been modified about every four years, needs to modified again to allow more freedom of expression for the students. And perhaps the students need to realize the dress code is in place to make the school environment safe and conducive to learning, and it should be respected.
Is dressing the way we want (within reason) , or having multiple piercings, mohawks, tattoos, blue or pink hair part of our first amendment right of freedom of expression?

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