The Chieftain

The Chieftain

Students Concerned Over Dress code

Veronica Perez, Reporter

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The classroom is silent and all eyes are on Jayla. ’Don’t you have any other shirts?’ Jayla’s teacher asked her ‘Jayla loves having her stomach out.’ 

The dress code is a set of guidelines that outline what a student may or may not wear to school and the punishment for breaking this code. According to the Piscataway High School student handbook, the dress code was created to create “an atmosphere conducive to better learning, self-respect, and a sense of responsibility.” However, many people find these rules hard to follow and very unfair. Punishments for these violations are at the discretion of the class dean.

The way that students are informed that they are breaking the code is often seen as unfair. Students report being called out in the middle of a hallway or singled out in the crowded lunchroom in front of other students.

“Do it again and you’ll get ICE,” Kaa’lah Bynes, a senior at PHS recalls a staff member telling her, “What you’re wearing is inappropriate. You need to change immediately.”

The way that students are reprimanded for breaking a rule makes the students opinion on the dress code even worse. Female students specifically feel singled out.“I don’t like how the dress code singles people out,” Kaa’lah stated, “I don’t like how boys aren’t reprimanded for it as much as girls.”

The dress code is also believed to “single out specific body types,” straying away from all students breaking the rules.

“The dress code is enforced with certain students, not all students,” says Jayla Greene, Sophomore at PHS. “Girls with more developed bodies are singled out.”

More developed bodies tend to be an issue in a dress code situation because they are easier to spot and stand out in the crowd.

“Big girls are the ones who get picked on,” says senior Kiara Reynolds, “Big girls stand out more.”

A few years ago, the dress code controversy was at its peak and so a new movement was created. During this movement students at PHS wore signs that read: “The dress code sexualizes the female body.” The movement was created to bring forth the idea that the dress code does more harm than good, especially to females students. A substantial amount of students participated in the moment, but it did not meet its intended purpose.

“The movement was cute and courageous, but not effective,” Kiara stated, “ However, it sparked more conversations about the dress codes.”

photo by Lydia Zeller

A student shows her navel which is against the dress code policy of PHS.

Most of the dress code controversy lies in the punishment for dress code violations. The PHS student handbook states that “any student that is not in compliance with the dress code is required to change and that further disciplinary action is at the discretion of the grade level dean”. Many students do not have the appropriate attire to change into when they are faced with a dress code violation and they are met with the “further disciplinary action”.

“My tenth grade year I got dress coded, I couldn’t get a change of clothes,” Kiara recalls “I was put in ICE.”

Dress code violations many times end with the student being put in ICE. In ICE students miss lessons because they are put in a different room where no real teaching happens. This is controversial because students believe that their attire does not take away from their or others ability to learn.

“I missed the teaching because I was in ICE for shorts that were a little short,” Kiara said.

Many students have a lot to say when it comes to the dress code issue. Students believe there is a better way to call out violations and want an open forum to create compromises for these issues.

“They shouldn’t call girls out in front of everyone or be quick to throw students in ICE,” Jayla said. “Why not have assemblies for students about these topics?”

The dress code controversy is not only one-sided. The dress code is a battle between the administration and the students. Therefore, the administration has their own views on the dress code and why it should be followed. Most of the time, however, they use their own judgment when dress coding. The administration takes into consideration why a student might be wearing what they are wearing.

“We do at times use discretion that we are fair and consistent, but also empathetic,” Dean Eyler said.

In addition, ICE is not the go-to punishment for administrators. The administration does not want students in ICE.

“I give them [students] courtesy by allowing them to take it [inappropriate clothing] off,” Dean Eyler stated. “If I keep talking to them I take their name. ICE is a worse case scenario when we’ve run out of options.”

The administration mostly wants to prepare students for how they carry themselves in the future. The dress codes intention is not to punish, but to determine what clothing is and is not appropriate for school.

“Some clothing is just not appropriate for school,” Dean Eyler stated. “Students need to prepare for a more formal setting.”

Students have a lot to say about the dress code because they believe that it limits self-expression, picks on certain body types, and picks primarily on females. Students at PHS want to find a compromise and want to be given a voice on the issues pertaining to them. Students are so passionate about these issues that they are willing to create entire movements to get their point across. On the other hand, the administration is simply doing their job and use their own discretion when handling dress code situations. The administration wants the students to follow the rules and listen the first time when reprimanded. Students and the administration have two very different perspectives on the dress code, perspectives that will not easily change. However, both sides are not satisfied with the way things are, indicating it may be time for a compromise.


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Students Concerned Over Dress code