By: Michael Wang <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sophomore Alexandra “Alex” Curtis was heading toward the world language department during a passing period. Wearing an empire-waist babydoll dress over a tank top, she thought she wasn’t violating the dress code because, according to Curtis, her tank top straps were three fingers wide, her shirt didn’t come too low to her chest, and her skirt was not above the fingertips of her hands when they were stretched.
However, she thought wrong. According to Curtis, Administrative Assistant Doug Bird got her attention and told her to go to the student services office. “It wasn’t in a very nice way,” Curtis said.
Curtis is one of several students at this school who have been disciplined for violating the dress code. But these students said they don’t understand why their dress didn’t meet the dress code. Like Curtis, they were aware of the dress code policy and said they felt their clothing was appropriate.
Curtis said she was shocked when she was asked to cover-up by Bird because, according to her, she was not dressed inappropriately.
“I have worn the outfit at least five times before, and I haven’t been told it was inappropriate before,” Curtis said. “Many people are being told to cover-up when their clothing isn’t really inappropriate.”
This could be the result of a generation gap between what teachers think is reasonable and what students think is reasonable. According to Assistant Principal John Newton, who works in the student services office, decency is when clothing is not revealing. He said, “We don’t care what the style is. It just has to be decent.”
If students have questions about why their style of clothing is inappropriate when they are asked to cover up, they can always talk to administrators about it, Newton said.
Curtis said that the dress code policies should be changeable because, she said, “fashion trends are always changing.”
Newton added, “Every year we change something in the dress code. Next year we are going to be examining the use of sleeves; whether or not girls and boys should have sleeves that come over the top of the shoulder.” The dress code policies, according to him, were compiled in the first place with collaboration among students, students’ parents, staff and other school personnel.
However, with so much diversity in the style of dress among the more than 4,000 students at this school, some teachers find it awkward to ask their students to cover-up. Science teacher Tim Mylin said that there is some awkwardness in that he notices the questionable dress in the first place, but it doesn’t intimidate him to ask students to cover-up.
Newton, who was in charge of implementing Operation Cover Up, said the idea was created this year in the first place in order for teachers to send down students who have questionable dress on to the student services office.
He said, “Teachers would see kids who had questionable dress on, and they wouldn’t say anything and they would complain. Therefore we would try to assist in trying to identify those students who have questionable dress.”
Operation Cover Up is specifically when Newton gets on the public address system at the beginning of the day and asks teachers to send any of their students down to the student services office who have on questionable dress. There has been one Operation Cover Up so far into this school year, when, according, to Newton, only five to 10 students were actually sent to the office. Newton said it is not distracting for teachers to call students who have questionable dress on and send them to the office because Operation Cover Up is at the beginning of class. “Students will miss just a few minutes of class time,” Newton said.
Curtis said she agrees that students who have revealing dress on are a distraction in a classroom because according to her, “Those students attract a lot of attention to themselves when doing ordinary actions, (such as) sitting down while wearing short skirts or bending over with revealing shirts.”
But she said that during Operation Cover Up, teachers need to ask their students to cover up more discretely. “Teachers should take the student aside and tell them privately rather than humiliating them in front of their peers,” she said. “Getting in trouble is bad enough; getting in trouble in front of your classmates is even worse.”
Curtis said, “Many teachers don’t realize that the types of clothing that they used to wear are no longer in style, and they need to keep up with the times.”