Students Call for Consistency in Dress Code

Bailey Van Wagoner, Business Manager, Managing Editor, Web Editor

With a new principal, Copper Hill’s dress code has been enforced more strictly this year by hall monitors, and students are upset. Students are up in arms over the execution and inconsistencies of the school dress code.

The process of dress-coding is a simple one. When a student is dress-coded, the hall monitor escorts him/her to the office and asks the student to change clothes. At this point, the student has a choice. He/she can change into clothing that is at the school or is brought to them. Or, he/she can rent “Grizzly Gear” for a $20 fee on his/her account which will be removed when the student returns the clothing.

Principal Veazie said that the administration has created these options to make the dress code process more efficient. Even so, no matter how the problem is being addressed, dress-coded students are missing important class time. One anonymous female student (Junior) said that when she went home to change, she missed a midterm exam. Her teacher said she couldn’t retake the test because she had “sluffed,” and the student failed that class.

This is not the only problem students want addressed. Multiple students have complained about the manner in which school officials dress code students. Kyra Saunders, Senior, cited instances of school officials grabbing students’ arms to pull them towards the office, smacking the bills of hats, and removing students’ hoods without warning. Many students say they are uncomfortable with this treatment and want it to stop.

Saunders also explained that she sees girls get dress-coded more often than guys. While some of these instances can be explained by individual students’ clothing choices, students find that girls are dress-coded more frequently, even when guys wear similar clothing. Saunders’ friend (female) was told to wear a jacket over her tank top when the boy sitting next to her wasn’t reprimanded; he was wearing a tank top as well. Nowhere in the Jordan District dress code does it state that the rules are different for girls, but the enforcement seems to be carried out on the basis of sex.

“The dress code now isn’t here to maintain professionalism,” Kenzie Sayasith, Junior, argues, “it’s mostly here to tell girls that they are something that is sexualized and that we need to cover up to make sure we don’t distract anyone.” Sayasith feels the dress code is a way to target and harass girls no matter what they are wearing for the sake of protecting boys from distraction. However, many boys of Copper Hills say there is no need for this protection. An anonymous male Senior said that clothing isn’t a distraction, and that is just an excuse schools use to dress code girls.

With regards to the purpose of the dress code at Copper Hills, Veazie said it has nothing to do with sexuality and that “it has more to do with propriety…than anything.” But the students protest that a girl is more likely to be dress-coded than a boy even if they are both violating the dress code.

Not only do numerous students think the enforcement of the dress code is sexist, a good deal would argue that it is also racist. Kenzie Sayasith had the feeling that school officials were racially profiling students, so she decided to perform an experiment. Sayasith asked her white, female friends to wear the same outfit she was dress-coded in. None of them were dress-coded or warned, and one girl was even complimented on her outfit by a school official.

Sophia Lewis, a mixed race Junior, experienced something similar to Sayasith. A school official told her that Spanx were considered inappropriate in school, even under skirts. In contrast, her white friends were encouraged to wear them under ripped jeans to “cover up.” Lewis called for fairness and consistency, saying, “If we must have a dress code, enforce it equally. It’s prejudiced. People are dress-coded for what they look like.” She argues that racial stereotypes and prejudices influence which students get dress-coded.

Girls and non-white students shouldn’t be dress-coded at a higher rate than other groups, nor should athletes receive preferential treatment in regards to the dress code. Copper Hills’ 2018 Student Code of Conduct states, “All students (including cheerleaders, dance, and drill) must meet dress code when in areas of the building other than practice areas or during performances.” Nevertheless, both male and female athletes wear their uniforms, which violate the dress code, during the school day without intervention from Copper Hills.

In response to this, Veazie said, “That’s an issue that probably needs to be addressed, truthfully.” He continued by saying that he wants to encourage athletes to wear clothing that advertises their sport other than their uniforms. This way, they can still show school spirit without breaking dress code. Until this transition takes effect, concerned students are afraid athletes will still change in the hallway and wear uniforms that violate dress code during school without any further consequences than a disapproving look.

Many students are angry about the sexism, racism, and athlete preference they see in the dress code, but they have ideas for how to fix the enforcement. The student body is calling for consistency. While they may not all agree with the rules of the dress code, they believe consistency is the best option short of abolishing the dress code. Sayasith echoed these sentiments when she said, “The people enforcing the dress code need to stop targeting certain students, whatever reasons they may have. It should be all or nothing.”

Inconsistencies in the dress code rules and its enforcement are a source of distress for students. The dress code listed on the 2018-2019 Copper Hills Code of Conduct is a Jordan District policy that hasn’t been revised since 2002. Not only did Veazie agree that parts of the policy are “antiquated” according to modern standards, but he also admitted that the school does not enforce the same rules as listed in the document. This means that there is no written dress code for the rules Copper Hills enforces. Because of this, students have no way of knowing what is in violation of the dress code. A number of students protest that they are judged against a set of rules they have no way of seeing, and enforcement, therefore, is held to few universal and observable standards. For the sake of Copper Hills students, there needs to be a serious discussion about the dress code.