“No bare midriffs permitted.” “Tops must cover the shoulder area.” “Shoes must be worn at all times.” “Jeans, pants, skirts or shorts must provide adequate coverage.”
These rules (directly from the Seaholm student handbook) don’t sound unreasonable. Yet many students still think it is unfair for the school to enforce such a dress code.We must ask, then, why are we so opposed to having a dress code? Is it really a crime for the school to ask students to cover their midriffs for seven hours a day?
Seaholm Principal Deanna Lancaster believes it is simply a matter of knowing when to wear certain clothing.
“As I’ve told my high schoolers for a lot of years: there are things that are perfectly fine for Friday night wear that are not perfectly fine for school wear. And so, we get confused occasionally,” Lancaster said.
A dress code can even be a good thing.
According to Rebekah Richards, author of “Why Should Schools Have Dress Codes?” “Dress codes encourage students to express themselves through their academic or personal achievements, rather than through appearances.”
Dress codes also prepare students for life after high school. Most workplaces require a specific type of dress. Enforcing a dress code while they are still in school prepares students for this reality, where violating the rules would have real consequences. Worse than just having to change, it could result in the loss of a job.
It is also important to acknowledge that the dress code being enforced by the Seaholm administration is not nearly as strict as those in practice in many other schools across the nation.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2009–10, about 57 percent of public school principals reported that they enforced a strict dress code in their schools, and about 19 percent of public school principals reported that their schools even required students to wear uniforms.
Even at Groves High School, which shares a school district with Seaholm, the rules are different.
At Groves, students are not allowed to wear yoga pants unless they “wear something that covers [their] rear end,” said Lancaster. “We don’t have that rule, and we’re not going to try and enforce it.”
So, before complaining about the dress code at Seaholm, students should consider this: we could be wearing uniforms.