Students disagree with administration about the enforced dress codes

Angeli Thompson, Editor in Chief

According to the Solon High School (SHS) Handbook, “The Solon Board of Education believes that pride in one’s self and school is often reflected in the way students dress.” The handbook states that students should show up to school dressed appropriately for an academic setting. Though this rule hasn’t changed, teachers and staff might argue that they’ve been more lenient throughout the years.

Pages 56-57 of the handbook list wardrobe that would be labeled as a distraction or as inappropriate while attending SHS. Some of those include: see through clothing, hoods obstructing the view of one’s face and ears, any clothing that shows someone’s chest, stomach or undergarments and any clothing that has profanity on it.

SHS Assistant Principal Carla Rodenbucher explained how she was part of a Discipline Committee that was formed during the summer to talk about SHS policies and practices. In the meeting, staff talked about the dress code policy and some things that may need to be altered from last year.

“It’s not that we didn’t have a dress code policy, it was that we probably didn’t do a good job of enforcing it,” Rodenbucher said. “This year we really put some more language in there to really show that, so we’re making a concerned effort as a staff to implement that policy.”

Rodenbucher explained how the staff felt like they needed a uniform for students that wasn’t actually a uniform, so kids have an opportunity to express themselves through what they wear, as long as it’s appropriate.

“[We’re] trying at least to let people express their style, but as I told one student, why can’t we just show an inch, you know,” Rodenbucher said. “But then an inch turns into more inches, and then where do you kind of draw that line, so we’re trying to do that.”

As well as Rodenbucher and other faculty, SHS Principal, Erin Short, also attended the meeting. Short stated the Discipline Committee was formed after meeting with the department chairs to discuss the policies.

“We met a couple times in the early summer, and we discussed dress code, tardy policies, cell phone policies, use of hall passes, those kinds of things,” Short said. “Our dress code has not changed that dramatically in the 23 years that I’ve been here. And I think this is super important, the dress code has been an issue for [those] 23 years.”

She expressed how they added more things to the policy making it more specific, but there haven’t been any substantial changes to the actual language in the dress code. Short feels the issue has been consistently enforcing it.

“If you go into your first [through] fifth period classes, and no one says anything, and then sixth period comes around and your teacher dress codes you, well I can understand why as a student you would be offended by that,” Short said. “It’s like ‘look I was just with five adults.’ So we have got to be consistent with how we enforce it.”

During the summer discipline committee meetings, Short explained how they really wanted to go through the dress code and talk about the best ways to enforce it. Not to shame kids, but to have private conversations with them about how what they’re wearing isn’t appropriate for school.

Although a lot of students have mixed opinions on the enforced dress codes this year, most of those students find it unfair because of how different and less enforced the dress code rules were last year. Students believe that this year the way the dress code rules are enforced is more harsh — by not being able to show stomachs at all — than the other years attending SHS.

Junior Simone Davis, president of Girl Up, expressed how much of an interest she has for feminism. She believes the dress code issues surround that idea and how they take away from the fact that all sexes should be equal, considering the dress code primarily affects women.

“When we had the [back to school] assembly Mrs. Rodenbucher spoke at, she made it very clear that the faculty had brought this to her attention, which I felt was definitely disgusting.”

Davis believes that the dress code is an anachronism for current times. She feels that the administration is enforcing the idea that what we wear can affect education and finds it to be unfair, especially considering last year it didn’t seem to be much of an issue. She believes a crop top shouldn’t affect a test score or how the class is taught.

“If you tell women that what they’re wearing isn’t academically appropriate, they’re not going to feel comfortable talking or being involved in academic settings,” Davis said.

Senior Mia Ciccero expressed how she, along with Davis, also feels the dress codes seem to come for women more than men, especially regarding the shirts women wear.

“I understand that students shouldn’t dress a certain way to school, but I think that [should be] to a certain extent,” Ciccero said. “With the trends nowadays, it’s almost not fair because what’s sold in stores is almost promoting [cropped clothes]. I think that what people own in their closets now is more cropped and not so long and baggy.”

Because of all the new styles, stores sell clothes that fit those specific styles. Popular stores the younger generations shop at nowadays sell clothes that might not be appropriate for school.

Students have expressed frustration for having to purchase a whole new wardrobe just for school policies, and they feel getting dressed in the morning for school can be a little bit challenging.

Senior Joel Kpassou talked about how he feels people should wear what they want to wear, as long as it’s appropriate.

“I feel like women should wear what they want to be comfortable in their own body,” Kpassou said.

Although some students understand the enforced dress code, many students who attend SHS don’t see a need to have such a strict dress code, and they don’t understand why it’s so different from years prior.

SHS English teacher Theresa Pace, had to adjust to enforcing the dress code a little more strictly this year, and said it wasn’t as easy for her to address students who weren’t following the rules.

“I’m torn about it, I really am,” Pace said. “I recognize styles have changed. I realize it isn’t technically [a students] place of employment, even though we urge students to look at this like it’s their job. And certainly I believe if I walked in with a crop top it would be a little bit unprofessional. So you can kind of turn-the-tables and say well why is it unprofessional for me and not for you.”

Pace mentioned how SHS is trying to enforce dressing more professional for future situations, like a job interview or going to college. She also stated how if students can’t learn to dress better, and more appropriately in school, it won’t change outside of school.

Specifically talking about crop tops, it seems the majority of the students have an issue with not being able to wear them. Many SHS students have come to a consensus about how showing a little bit of stomach shouldn’t be an issue for school, with also understanding that tops that look like a bra wouldn’t be okay to wear.

“I think certain things should be covered but I [feel showing] stomachs is not so serious,” Ciccero said. “I feel like it should be a rule of a certain amount of inches, but I think not being able to wear a crop top at all is a bit ridiculous.”

Pace has explained the thinking behind some of the reasons why the dress code needed to be more enforced. She has expressed how a bikini top wouldn’t be appropriate for school, so coming into an academic setting with clothing like that would be inappropriate. She expressed how students need to try and understand why the dress code rules are the way they are.

“I’m not restricting you from an education,” Pace said. “I’m encouraging you to make it so that we can all learn together. I would never [tell] a kid [they couldn’t] participate because of the way they look. But at the same time I hope that [the] students too [can learn] to have an open mind about where we’re coming from [as well].”