What Should the Dress Code Cover?


In Middle School, the dress code was a big deal; I remember frantically checking to make sure that my shirt’s straps were at least three fingers wide or that my top was adequately long whenever I was wearing leggings. The restrictions were clear from my first day of eighth grade on, and the dress code was, for the most part, both followed and enforced.

But as soon as I moved buildings and came into the high school, the rules became a lot hazier. The undeniable presence of the dress code that existed in the middle school has almost disappeared. I often see students wandering the halls in sweatpants and athletic shorts, even pajama pants occasionally. When I asked the array of students in the third-floor computer lab how they felt about the dress code, the responses were mostly along the lines of “What dress code?” Yes, we do have a dress code here at Latin, but, for most students, the rules are unclear and largely disregarded. Even I wasn’t completely sure what was and was not allowed. So, I consulted the handbook. According to the 2013-2014 handbook, student attire should be “neat, clean, and appropriate for a school environment” and “should not offend others nor be a distraction to students, faculty, or staff.” Following were examples of inappropriate clothing which included sweatpants, athletic shorts, visible underwear, clothing that advertises illegal or inappropriate symbols, and excessively revealing or tight clothing.

Latin’s dress code is somewhat of a touchy topic. Varying opinions, on both ends of the spectrum, exist throughout the students and faculty. And all different sides of the argument make their own valid points.  On the positive end, the loosened dress code treats Latin students like the adults that we like to think we are, allowing us to make our own decisions about what is and is not appropriate. One student gave her opinion, stating that “As long as something is not blatantly offensive or inappropriate, and doesn’t make someone else feel uncomfortable, I think it’s okay to wear to school.” On the other hand, the dress code is definitely lackluster, and the “I don’t care” attitude held by students is not setting a very good precedent for the younger members of the Latin community. Some also believe that looking nice, or at least presentable, is important to show that you respect both the school and your education, hence the “no sweatpants” rule.

I definitely agree with some of the comments that I heard about the “selective enforcement” of the dress code, citing seniors and athletes as groups that often get let off the hook. It also varies heavily from teacher to teacher, as each teacher has his or her own opinion and tactic of enforcement. Another thing to consider is the seeming disparity between dress restrictions for each gender. One student agreed that, “the dress code is way more strict for girls than it is for boys.” Personally, I am satisfied with the dress code as is. The lack of its presence in our community is something that I feel gives us freedom and acts as a vehicle for the kind of personal expression that we see in so many other aspects of the school. It is the enforcement of the dress code that poses the real issue—the rules need to become clearer for the students, or at least consistent in their enforcement. Either way, it’s something that affects our everyday life here at Latin, and will undoubtedly continue to be a subject of debate for years to come.

What do you think? Should the dress code become stricter, or should we have none at all? Let us know in the comments below.