Students Rip Policy, Northfield Responds

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Students Rip Policy, Northfield Responds

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Students, Teachers & Administration Stitch Together to Improve Dress Code Policy

Dress code has always been a problem in a school where you don’t have to wear a uniform. This year’s dress code policy at Northfield High School was no exception, leaving specific group of students, such as female students and students of color, have felt unequally targeted.

In the 2018-2019 student and parent handbook, the stated purpose of the dress code is to, “create a professional and respectful environment in preparation for the future…Northfield has developed a Dress Code with district guidelines to support a safe and disruption- free appropriate learning environment for all.”

Although it was meant to create a better learning environment for all students, many believed that the rules were written more for girls than boys. For example, some details of the policy address fashion choices that only female students tend to make, such as keeping girls from showing their shoulders and stomach. Those making these claims overlooked the fact that the dress code also prohibits mostly male fashion choices such as sagging your pants and showing your underwear. Whether it was reality or just perception, the result of this year’s new dress code policy was that students felt unequally targeted.

Shierry– “It’s a bit sexist & too much. Certain limitations should be set. It’s like a superiority complex.”

Many females at Northfield High School are frustrated with the dress code policy because they don’t feel like they’re able to come to school wearing what they feel comfortable in. On top of this, many questioned if the dress code policy was being equally enforced, especially between genders.  While many can agree that the dress code is necessary for regulating how short in length the pants can be for women or how much skin should be exposed in the school environment, many students feel like it is every woman’s right to be able to express themselves through their clothing.

Jabrel J.– “I believe it’s offensive for girls who feel more passionate about what they wear, but for me as a guy it doesn’t matter to me.”

Majority of the males at school don’t feel like the dress code affects them at all. Most of the boys we talked to actually wanted the girls at school to demonstrate body positivity and wear what they feel comfortable in but in a respectful way.

Anayla L.– “[The Dress Code] was not enforced correctly upon everyone. They tried to send me home for a rip on my knee… we don’t need to dress professionally right now.”

This had been a common issue since the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Girls around the school were upset that they were being sent home during the first couple of weeks due to wearing ripped jeans. They argued that sending them home for what they were wearing denied them their learning experience at school. Even if they weren’t sent home, enforcing the dress code policy became more of a distraction in the classroom because the teachers would stop class in order to address what they are wearing.

As Northfield’s Student Body President, Zion Smith took a prominent role addressing these student concerns. She noticed that there was a problem with the dress code when students were walking around school with tape on their jeans. Many student reached out to Zion with their concerns and whether or not things were going to change. She listened to everyone’s opinions on the subject and decided to make a student petition. When asked why she thought the petition was the best option to enforce change, Zion explained that she “just wanted everyone’s voice to be heard.”

Those voices of Northfield students were heard. 

We felt that it was important to make a change to try to insure equity. I was really proud of the fact that our kids used their voice and spoke up about [the dress code]. Your voices needed to be heard.”

— Assistant Principal, Corey Carter

In response, the school has updated dress code policies with the goal to fit everyone’s standards a bit more. Some parts of the policy remain unchanged, such as having to wear tops that meet the bottom of your pants and not having undergarments showing through mesh or fishnet types of material.

What has changed was the rules on ripped jeans. Ripped jeans are allowed to be worn but there can be no rips on the back of the legs and rips can not be too big. Pictures were shown to students at assembly to show what is acceptable and what is not.

Mr. Carter, Northfield’s newest Assistant Principal, explained why it was important that these changes to the dress code were made. “It was important for us to make some changes to the dress code because as we looked at how the dress code was affecting our students, it was overwhelmingly affecting our young ladies especially our young ladies of color.” He continued to say, “We felt that it was important to make a change to try to insure equity. I was really proud of the fact that our kids used their voice and spoke up about [the dress code]. Your voices needed to be heard.”

Most adults and students in the Northfield community agree that the new dress code policy is a win for all of the people at Northfield.

But no dress code policy change is more important than what was really accomplished through this whole process: Students were able to come together and talk with administration about the ways the dress code affected them and how we could still regulate the dress code in a different way that was equal and fair for all.