Monday, February 26, 2018

Dress code at Westside, Part II by Hannah Hayes and Liz Sharrow


We’ve all heard plenty of complaints about the dress code at Westside. Maybe a friend or classmate has forced you to listen to their unfair encounter with getting dress coded, or maybe you’ve had a headbutting with dresscode yourself, but no matter whether it was yourself or someone else, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced dress coding to some extent. Last time we wrote an article, it was stories from you all that we recorded and wrote to share, but this time we’ve decided to hit the source of all our problems: our teachers and administrators.
(For the privacy of our teachers, these interviews are going to be kept anonymous.)

Teacher 1:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
A ) Maybe once a month; Shorty shorts (usually cheer)

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A) Not really

Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
A) Sometimes it can be, but I think most teachers can keep it fair.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
A) I tell all my players they can't wear their shorts if they are not (to) dress code, but I've gotten onto about four cheerleaders.

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
A) I focus on the time. If I know they just left PE or athletics and they are 1 class away from the bell, I let it slide.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
A) I don't enforce the holes above the knees that often.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
A) Uh, yes. Some teachers pick on kids that just left PE or a sport and have one class left in school. I mean seriously -- it's 45 more minutes.

Teacher #2:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
A) I do not generally dress code people.

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A) Yes

Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
A) In some ways, yes. I think that women/girls bodies are hyper sexualized in our society whereas mens are not, so it affects society’s view of clothing regarding gender. Since men are not generally viewed as "sexy," they are allowed to show more skin without judgement. However, I also feel that there are some ways of dressing that are not appropriate for school/work like excessive cleavage, visible undergarments or excessive amounts of exposed skin. In general, I feel that dress codes try to put into place rules that help all students to feel comfortable in the environment and do not single out one gender more than the other on purpose.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
A) No

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
A) I do look for short/skirt length and issues with cleavage.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
A) I think that tank tops/spaghetti straps should be allowed as should leggings.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
A) I am not sure.

Teacher #3:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
A ) I usually only see obvious dress code violations. I don't always catch if there are holes too high in jeans or if shorts are just barely too short, but if it is something obviously indecent, it will stick out. Most of what I have reported involves revealing shirts or short shorts on girls, or hats/hoods on guys. I have not intentionally let a rule slide, but if it is not an obvious violation, I may not always notice.

Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
A) I do feel that there are more rules that apply to girls, but I don't feel like it is a bias as far as the rule-makers go. Society has different expectations for girls and boys, and generally the dress reflects that. For example, I have not had to turn a boy in for shorts being too short, but that is because the manufacturers do not make them that way.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
A) I have probably had to address girls more often than boys, but it is probably because more of the rules seem to apply to girls. Because athletic shorts are generally shorter for girls, I can see where that would be an issue, but I also remember having to bring sweatpants or longer shorts when I was a student to make sure that I could slip them on quickly over my practice clothes and still follow the dress code, so there is always an option for that.

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
A) I look for things that are either a danger or a distraction. If I am distracted by something, other students usually are as well, so I will usually address those issues. Other things I will address if I notice them, but if it is not as obvious, I may not realize that it is a violation initially.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
A) I feel like the rules that in place now have gone through careful consideration, and it is much more lenient than it used to be. I wish we could just say "dress appropriately," but unfortunately what is appropriate for one person is not appropriate for another, so there have to be very specific guidelines.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
A) I'm sure there are teachers who make observing dress code a priority, and they are following the rules by doing so. Personally, I do not have time to check every single garment on every student when they walk into my classroom, so I am more likely to miss something less obvious. I do feel like the rules are necessary, and we need some of those people to catch those violations so that we don't have a bigger problem with students breaking all of those rules.

Teacher #4:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
 A) I will do so anytime I notice a problem. Most of the time it is for either shorts or skirts/dresses too short or holes in pants.

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A) No. It doesn't matter if I agree with the rules or not; they are rules. Therefore, I follow them. However, I don't always notice problems, and they slip by me.
   
Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
A) No, not really. Neither guys nor girls should be immodest. However, because popular styles for girls do tend to have holes or are designed to be low cut, I believe they are probably called out more. Too, I think the same item of clothing on one person may not be called out on one student but will for another student because the girls' body types are different causing the clothing to look different on each girl. For example, long/short legs affect skirt/short length; bustier girls may show more cleavage without trying to be provocative; heavier girls may get coded for yoga pants but skinnier girls won't. Viewer perspective plays a part.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
 A) Girls who change clothes for sports get coded when they try to wear certain sportswear to other classes (ie. too short shorts). This wouldn't be a problem if the code was enforced in the PE classes and athletics as well. For example, if short shorts are against school rules, why are students allowed to wear them at all, ever at school?

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
 A) I don't "look for" anything, so if I notice something, it's either because someone else drew my attention to it or because it was SO noticeable that the infraction was distracting.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
 A) Absolutely to both questions. For example, why are volleyball shorts actually the equivalent of panties, and that is considered okay? It's not! They certainly don't meet dress code, but no one does anything about it. Yet, yoga pants are considered too form fitting to be decent. What a contradiction! Too, yoga pants seem to coded more often when the person wearing them does not look as good in them. Hmmm, that's a problem. Are there other examples? Of course, but you only asked about dress code.
I realize that the intent of all of the rules is to ensure the best environment for all students to learn. Therefore, I follow them.  Fair is not always equal though, and I try to be fair.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
 A) Some teachers do enforce dress code more than others, and I don't think they all do so fairly or for the same reasons. If they are doing it unfairly, it's wrong; however, I don't think you can enforce a rule "too much." If it's a rule, it should be followed. The better question might be if it should be a rule at all.


Teacher #5:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
 A)  I hardly have to get on to anyone about dress code, if I do it is for their shirt not covering their rear while wearing yoga pants or leggings. I verbally get on to them and then will tell them to not let it happen again. I've only had one student I had to send to the office and that was for ripped jeans that were super inappropriate. I guess it really depends on the code that they are breaking. I try to go by the rules; that's the only way to be fair to everyone--especially if I have a repeat offender.

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A) I treat the rules as if it's for boys and girls;  if a boy is wearing shorts that are the correct length, I would get on to him just like I would a girl. If a boy has on a tank top that is breaking the rules, I would get on to him just like I would a girl.
   
Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
A)  I think I am harder on the athletes because I know that it gets stressed to them more often than others on NOT breaking the dress code.  I used to tell my softball players that if they got in trouble, they would get in double the trouble with me.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
 A) During the moment of silence, I have my students stand and I check for dress code violations. If I see someone breaking the dress code in the hallway, I will pull them aside. I don't "look" for dress code violators per se, but if it's bad enough for me to notice walking down the hall, that's not good.

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
 A) I know there is an argument over Nike shorts- Nike shorts can look different on each person.  If we allowed students to wear them and they were super tight and short on one person and loose and just the right fit for another, we wouldn't be able to enforce any code on anyone.  I understand that style is different now days, and it's hard to find clothes. I just wish we could find a happy medium and everyone go with it.  We have students that try to push the limit sometimes, and that's where it affects everyone around.  A code violation that is not enforced enough would be leggings and yoga pants.  If it's a rule, we need to enforce it; if it's not, then remove it.  It can't be based on the person or the size of the person if they can or can not wear them.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
 A) Yes, I do. I see some students that come to my class 3rd block, and no one has gotten on to them all day for their outfit.  I will verbally get on to them and let them know that they will be sent to the office if it happens again.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
 A) I used to see more vulgar shirts in the past, hidden meaning shirts and so on, and that doesn't seem to happen as much anymore.  I do feel if a girl is wearing an off the shoulder shirt but has on a tank top or something underneath that appears as straps, they should be able to wear that.  I'm fine with yoga pants and leggings as long as everything isn't showing for everyone to see.  I do know that some people get in trouble for certain violations because of their shape compared to other girls.  For example, a taller girl for getting in trouble for her shorts compared to a shorter person.  For the dress code to work, we need to make sure that, even if you don't agree with it or think it's right, for everyone to be treated fairly, they must be enforced.

Teacher #6:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
A ) I will get onto someone more than once a day usually. Hats and short shorts mostly.

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A) No

Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
A) NOPE (more boys wear hats and get into trouble and more girls wear short shorts); it's about [being]equal.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
A)  Mostly those wearing hats

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
A) The spandex pants with the top not long enough slides by because there are so many that wear it and nothing is said.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
A)  I do not agree with the "no hat" rule at all. I think it should be up to the teacher whether or not the students should be allowed to wear a hat in the classroom. The spandex pants is not enforced at all.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
A)  There is no such thing as enforcing rules too much. Rules are rules whether you agree with them or not. You can't pick and choose the rules you want to follow. If you don't like a rule, then try to have it changed, but you have to follow it as long as it's a rule. But yes, not all teachers are consistent and some are more strict than others. Some teachers also will allow one student to get by with something but not another.

Teacher #7:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
A ) Shorts or dresses too short... this includes holes in the jeans above the dollar bill length above the knee -- 2 - 3 times per week on violations... Why not show some modesty? Schools are business-like places that serve as a model for how you will need to act in your job. Too short shorts that distract from customers are bad for business.

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A) NOPE

Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?
Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
A) It may seem that way, but it has more to do with fashion instead of gender.

Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
A) We do not look for anything; we just know it when we see it.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
A) No

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
A) No

Teacher #8:
Q) How often do you dress code people, if ever? What do you get onto them for?
A ) I am usually watching most students especially in the morning before it goes all day. I get onto them for anything that is against the dress code.

Q) Have you ever let a student slide because you think a rule is overkill?
A)  I try not to let things slide because more students will try to take advantage of the situation; the problem with most rules, especially dress code, is because it is not handled the same by every teacher.

Q) Do you think the dress code is biased towards gender?]
A) I try to treat everyone the same; sometimes girls do not change out of their athletic clothes before coming to 4th or 5th block. If they can't come to school dressed that way, they shouldn't be able to dress that way for any class outside of athletics. ROTC also does physical activity and they did not dress that way, so it irks me sometimes.

Q) Is there a certain type of person you dress code more often? (i.e Gender, whether or not they play sports [volleyball shorts])
Q) Are there certain things you look for? Are there certain things you let slide?
A) I try to look for all rules equally.  I personally do not like students wearing hats in the building, but most places it is socially accepted.

Q) Are there rules you don't agree with? Are there some you don’t think are enforced enough?
A) I agree with the rules; holes in jeans above the knee is the one rule I feel is not enforced enough. I also think the rule against shirts with suggestive slogans is enforced enough.

Q) Do you think other teachers, not naming them, enforce this rule more than others or too much?
A) I'm not around other teachers very much, so I don't feel like I can answer that very accurately.  I think our dress code is pretty lax; I've worked at others school where it's been very strict.  Boys there could not wear shorts at all or have earrings, and folks could have no more than two holes in each ear, and no one could have facial piercings. So ours is pretty easy.

By these interviews we have found that not only do the students have very strong opinions about the dress code, but so do some of the teachers. Some were very open to giving their opinion and others… well, not so much as you can tell… Most of them had all types of different feedback, from how they did think it was biased due to gender, to the fair and unfair treatments of athletes and students not in the athletic programs. We hope that you have learned a lot about what your teachers think and more about the dress code. If you have any questions, feel free to email and ask. We’d like to end this series with a special thanks to all the teachers and students who took the time to respond to our interviews. Your feedback was much appreciated.




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