Dress Code Enforcement Creates Controversy

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Balancing free speech and the security of the academic environment is a challenge, and it often results in heated debates about the effectiveness of school dress codes. Often times, students feel like they are unfairly targeted as far as the dress code is concerned, while the administrators feel like the problem could be avoided entirely if students simply followed the school rules. In the case of Ms. Clark, it gets even more complicated.

“I had on a dress, and over my dress I wore a sweater, and I took my picture with no problems. Fast forward a couple months, and I’m in class when a girl gets called to the office and we don’t know why. Then I get called down,” senior Aliyah Clark said.

Clark was flagged for a dress code violation, as the administration claimed that too much shoulder was showing in her school picture.

“That was super frustrating for me, because only a small sliver of my shoulder was showing, and it was unintentional,” Clark said. “I went and reread the dress code four billion times after that, because I was worried that I had really violated it, and it doesn’t say you can’t show your shoulders.”

Administrator Ross Harris had a different take on the story, and he feels that the way they handled the situation is identical to the way they’ve handled them in the past.

“I think freedom of expression is open for interpretation. When you walk into a public school, you are under the discretion of the school board, as well as the dress policy, so what they dictate or the policies they set are the ones we enforce,” administrator Harris said.

The conflicting viewpoints highlight the problems in a lot of other schools about dress code. A lot of girls feel that they are unfairly required to follow a different set of rules than male students. Clark feels that often times the girls are subject to different and often harsher standards than their male counterparts, and that the dress code rules are harsher and stricter in the summer.

“In the summer, when it gets really hot, I feel like girls should be able to wear something that doesn’t cover as much,” Clark said.

Undoubtedly, this is an issue that a lot of different students have a lot of different opinions on. A lot of students disagree with Clark’s assessment of the dress code, and feel that she violated dress code, so she should face the consequences. However, Clark has gained a lot of traction on social media, and several students are on her side.

“I think that during the summer for girls, it’s hard for girls not to wear short shorts,” senior Madi Lee said. “I would definitely ease up on it.”