Starting off the new school year, Seaholm High School’s dress code has sparked a debate between students and the administration.
“The fact that I can’t wear comfortable shorts is just stupid,” senior Jackie Johnson said. “They’re not gonna tell me how to dress or else they can buy me a new wardrobe.”
However, what Johnson and many of her classmates consider comfortable, administrators are calling too short.
As a result, administrators have put students on notice: now that summer is over and school is in session, it’s time to dress the part.
“Shoulders (must be) covered up, no spaghetti straps, and you can’t wear halter tops,” Seaholm Principal Dee Lancaster said. “One of the things that we are really going to be policing now, quite honestly, is length.”
Officially, there is no new dress code. Language in the student handbook – for example “jeans, pants, skirts or shorts must provide adequate coverage” – has been in place for years.
What’s different this year is the administration’s stepped up enforcement effort.
During the class assemblies last week, administrators announced form-fitting athletic shorts, spaghetti strapped shirts, and crop tops will not be acceptable. With regard to shorts, a hands-down, fingertip-length approach is expected.
“Those are the only things in my closet and they’re really popular,” freshman Cara Sevec said. “It’s going to be really hard for me to find clothes to wear everyday now.”
Students may not like that the rules are to be more strictly enforced this year, but there are now steps that will be taken to impose these regulations.
“Typically, it’s just a warning,” Seaholm Assistant Principal Deb Boyer said. “Now if the student chooses to give me some lip about it then I’ll say let’s go talk in my office. But usually, students will understand.”
According to Boyer, students who generally don’t have issues with dress code will only be given a warning, but if a student is caught more than once they will be forced to change into a field day shirt or pants. If the outfit is too inappropriate, students will not be allowed to attend the rest of the school day without changing. Students will be warned, but if necessary, parents will be contacted.
Even though boys don’t have much to change in their fashion, they still seem to have an opinion on the administration’s choice to implement these regulations.
Senior Max Claussen said enforcing the dress code “takes away girls’ freedom.”
Senior Andrew Pryka agreed.
“If you’re going to treat us like young adults, then we should be trusted to deal with something that personal,” Pryka said. “We’re all adults here.”
The interpretation of the dress code can be very open, according to the words in the handbook, as Boyer said, and this seems to be one cause of the disagreement.
“The dress code is a little ambiguous, it says appropriate,” Boyer said. “The likelihood that we’re all going to agree is slim to none.”
Another question that arose during this school week revolved around the Seaholm dress code in relation to Groves High School. There are Seaholm students who must go to Groves for a class or two every day, but which code do they follow?
“It came mainly down to the hats and they make their boys wear shirts tucked in with belts,” Boyer said. “But we haven’t had any trouble so we don’t think we need to add that to our dress code. But yes, when our students are there, the hats must come off.”
Assistant Principal Othamian Peterson, who transferred over from Groves before joining Seaholm’s administration team, has a similar perspective on the dress code policy. He pointed out the policies from Groves or Seaholm don’t vary too much from one another.
“I think this year there’s just more of an emphasis, and the point, for the most part, is just to eliminate another distraction and make the school as educational worthy as possible,” Peterson said.
According to Sevec, most of the students’ concern of the policy is coming from misunderstandings.
“I don’t even know what the dress code is,” Sevec said, “but to take away what makes students feel comfortable doesn’t seem fair.”
Another misunderstanding surrounded popular yoga pants, including Lulu Lemon apparel. Initially, dozens of students mistakenly thought the leggings were banned and took their frustration to social media.
“I heard that yoga pants were no longer allowed and people were talking about it all over Twitter,” Johnson said.
However, yoga pants aren’t actually banned and girls are still allowed to wear them as they previously did at Seaholm.
“The dress code has not been changed in years,” Boyer said, “but we know what the new trends are so we have to keep the code general enough to apply to every generation.”
Although there has been discussion on the dress code, “most students are appropriate,” said Boyer.
Johnson said she will adjust to the policy.
“It is just school and I can probably find some stuff,” Johnson said, “but I just thought the actions they were trying to take were a bit much.”