Dress code: let’s focus on education, not what we’re wearing

Cartoon by Alison Dhont
Cartoon by Alison Dhont

At the start of this school year, CVHS administrators made the decision to more strictly enforce the school dress code. No longer would students be able to get away with wearing extremely short shorts, tube tops, or crop tops.

Here at The Olympian we object to school policies that seem to restrict girls far more than boys. Disciplining girls for wearing shorts that are two inches too short, for fear of distracting boys, would take away girls’ instructional time. It would also reinforce outdated gender roles, creating the impression that educating boys is more important than educating girls.

The school has also announced upcoming “dress code sweeps” which would only create more disruption in the classroom. These sweeps will single out individuals, causing unnecessary shame and instilling guilt into the affected students.

The school may argue that the dress code helps maintain a professional, distraction-free learning environment, but we would be better off if the effort that goes into enforcing it was instead used for programs that actually help students prepare for the professional world. What good is not wearing shorts for students if they aren’t able to develop the proper communication or leadership skills needed to succeed in a workplace?

Instead of focusing on physical appearance, the administration should work on improving the conduct of the students. Racial slurs are punishable if worn on clothing, but some students still yell them in the hallways. To create a respectable learning environment, and to get students to focus in class without distractions, perhaps less energy should go into something as futile as enforcing the dress code, and instead be spent on helping teachers improve their classes and develop new curriculum.

While the distractions of dress code violations may offer a minor disruption in class, the quality of students’ learning ultimately comes down to the effectiveness of the way the material is presented. And if a student performs poorly in a class, the blame should not be placed on the girl next to him wearing short shirts. The administration needs ways to help struggling students achieve, without punishing students who commit such a minor offense.

One thought on “Dress code: let’s focus on education, not what we’re wearing

  • October 11, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I will show my age here but we had dress codes when I went to school and I don’t think enforcement took away from preparing students for entering the professional world. As a manager, I can tell you that it will most likely get enforced in the workplace so they might as well get used to dressing appropriately. I would argue it would better prepare them for the work force.

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