Students discuss the merit and rigidity of CHS dress code


Blot graphic by Kylie Lamb.

Sarah Lynch

As spring weather and sunshine evade winter cold, shorts and dresses become the seasonal wardrobe for CHS students. While spring attire may be conducive to warmer weather, it may also violate school dress code.

The CHS Student Handbook outlines the school’s dress code policy, which is uniform with that of the other MCVSD schools. The handbook specifically forbids articles of clothing such as hats, flip flops, open-backed shirts and basketball jerseys, if not worn over a t-shirt.

Though 70 percent of CHS students are aware of the school’s dress code, 46 percent of students reported having consciously broken the dress code, according to a survey 227 students from March 22, 2017 to March 23, 2017. Junior Bridget Garrett of Wall has been caught violating the school dress code “a few times” for various articles of clothing.

“I mean, my parents see me when I leave for school, so they didn’t stop me,” Garrett said. “It was more a dress that was a little short, shorts that were not awfully short, but shorter than dress code and a lot of times for shirts that have straps that aren’t long enough.”

Students found violating the dress code “shall be disciplined by the building administrator, in accordance with other Board policies,” according to the handbook. Also, the student’s parent is then expected to pick him or her up from school or bring appropriate clothing for them to wear. The handbook also states that students could be taken out of class.

But Garrett said she has never been severely punished for breaking the dress code.

“Usually, I just get yelled at,” Garrett said.

But Garrett feels that body shape is a factor in who is punished most often for dress code violations, and said she feels girls that “don’t have much to show off” are more often targets.

“It’s less creepy for a male teacher to say [to me] ‘That’s a low-cut shirt.’ Because if it was somebody a little bigger, it would be creepy,” Garrett said. “I feel like I’m a little bit of a target because of that.”

An anonymous junior girl described an incident when she felt the CHS dress code affected her unfairly.

“One time I was in front of the office and four adults came up to me and started reprimanding me for the shorts I was wearing. Then I got on the bus and there was another girl wearing the same exact pair of shorts, which was kind of frustrating because she definitely was not yelled at.”

But junior Christina Alfano of Middletown feels oppositely.

“I do know if you are a ‘heavy’ girl and you wear the latest trends you’d be disciplined more than skinny girls wearing the same clothes,” Alfano said. “I have heard of many instances of this occurring.”

Alfano described an incident that took place at her home high school, Middletown South. A senior girl was wearing a shirt with a two inch cut-out oval near the neckline of the shirt.

“She is relatively heavy, so her chest is more pronounced, and she got detention because of her shirt and being ‘too scandalous,’” Alfano said. She added that the dress code at Middletown South is “more strict than CHS, especially in instances of body shaming.” Like Alfano, 60 percent of students said that the dress code is at CHS is more lenient than that of their home high schools.

But students do recognize a disparity between genders in dress code policy: 78 percent say that the dress code penalizes females more than males. But punishments for dress code violations have not been exclusive to females; senior Tony Moore of Howell recounted his experience violating dress code.

“The incident was I was wearing a tank top. Mr. Gleason had an issue with that, which I understand why you might have an issue with it. It wasn’t that the straps were too thin, it was that I was showing the area right under my armpit. That was the issue,” Moore said.

Moore said he still wanted to wear these tank tops, and bought a “binder,” or undershirt-like garment, so he could still wear his shirts.

“I made it work, and I’ve also found that if I just wear a button up shirt and don’t button it, I can get away with it. I find my ways.”

Moore said he feels the CHS dress code is too strict, but not unreasonable.

“I wasn’t hurting anyone. But [the dress code] does have its merits, though I don’t think it should be as strict as it is.”  

While Moore believes the dress code is too strict, 70 percent of CHS students think the dress code at CHS is appropriate. Sophomore Kelly Forrester of Spring Lake Heights said she is neutral about the dress code.

“I don’t really have any strong feelings about the CHS dress code, because I feel like it’s not really enforced and no one really listens to it,” Forrester said. “And I don’t really think that’s a big deal. [The rules] are lenient, and no one really breaks it to the point where something needs to be said.”