Students VS. Dress Code

A conversation between two students highlights the long-standing controversy of the student dress code.

After national protests ensued about the dress code, Oklahoma schools, including those in Moore Public Schools, saw backlash about their own regulations about student attire.

Graphic by Kenny Kim

After national protests ensued about the dress code, Oklahoma schools, including those in Moore Public Schools, saw backlash about their own regulations about student attire.

Jordan Long: Have you heard about the protests down in Mustang?

Sutton Dozier: I’ve heard a bit about it, but I’m not an expert on it. Doesn’t it have to do with the dress code?

Jordan Long: Yeah, so basically students went outside the school and held up signs that read, “My body is not a distraction,” “Stop sexualizing girls,” and more. I heard 30 students got suspended because of it!

Sutton Dozier: That’s crazy! I’ve seen posts on Snapchat stories about possible walkouts but I didn’t know this wasn’t just a local thing, and nothing like that has happened at Westmoore.

Jordan Long: I never saw an actual walkout or any physical forms of protest, there have just been some verbal disputes here and there.

Sutton Dozier: I might ask around to see what I can find.

Jordan Long: That’s a great idea!

Sutton Dozier: So, I interviewed sophomore Ava Moody, and she talked about her experiences with dress code and how there seems to be a difference between how it is enforced on boys versus girls.

Jordan Long: Oh yeah? So what did she say?

Sutton Dozier: She had good insight. Specifically, “I don’t like how the dress code is being addressed to girls. It makes us insecure; the fact that we have to cover our stomachs whenever we pass teachers because we are afraid of getting dress-coded for our midriff. I understand bras and things like that but I don’t understand why it matters that we have two inches of our stomach showing.”

Jordan Long: I can kind of understand that. Did you ask anyone else what they thought?

Sutton Dozier: Yeah, I did. I decided to interview a boy to see if his perspective differed in any way. So, I interviewed senior Carson Hennessee.

Jordan Long: What did he have to say?

Sutton Dozier: He had an interesting viewpoint on the topic as well. His explicit words were, “I can say that having a dress code is definitely better than having to wear uniforms. For the most part, it’s a school, not a fashion show.”

Jordan Long: That’s understandable.

I don’t like how the dress code is being addressed to girls. It makes us insecure; the fact that we have to cover our stomachs whenever we pass teachers because we are afraid of getting dress-coded for our midriff. I understand bras and things like that but I don’t understand why it matters that we have two inches of our stomach showing.”

— Ava Moody, 10

Sutton Dozier: So what’s the deal with the dress code anyway? We’ve always had one so why do you think it’s being protested now?

Jordan Long: I think some girls feel targeted by the dress code and other students, teachers, and administrators feel like it is outdated. If girls are being sold shirts that show their shoulders and their stomachs, or anything else against the dress code. It’s hard to try and find clothing that fits within the dress code if that’s just not what stores are selling. Also, I think they’re being inspired by protests happening at other schools. Now, this isn’t to say I’m trying to take one side or the other, that’s just what some students are thinking right now you know?

Sutton Dozier: Makes sense. I would definitely like to see what some of the principals have to say on this. Get an administrative point of view on this, you know?

Jordan Long: That’s a great idea! I’ll interview Mr. Braggs if you’ll interview Mr. Ross?

Sutton Dozier: Works for me. Let’s see what they have to say.

Jordan Long: My interview with Mr. Braggs gave me a good laugh, but he touched on a topic that I’ve been really curious about for a while.

Sutton Dozier: Nice! Well, let’s hear it.

Jordan Long: He seemed to talk more about the professionalism of the dress code, this is what he had to say, “You have every right to do what you think you need to do, but we need to keep order and safety within our school. We are trying to prepare you guys for the outside world because if you go sit in front of your boss wearing a Playboy shirt, that won’t fly unless your boss is Hugh Hefner.”

Sutton Dozier: That’s awesome, and he makes a good point there.

Jordan Long: I know right! Anyways, what did Mr. Ross have to say?

Sutton Dozier: He had good insight, and changed my perspective a bit on the whole “reason why” of the dress code. He said, “I have a duty to limit or eliminate disruptions to the educational process. When students walk out of class, it’s a clear violation of that. If I allowed it, even if it was something that I agreed with, I would open the door for there to be protests about any issue that a group of students agreed upon. But my sole golden rule is that I have to protect the sanctity of the educational process.”

Jordan Long: I never thought of it that way. Regardless, what even is the purpose of the dress code?

Sutton Dozier: I think a question like that is open to interpretation. The thing is, like Mr. Braggs said, a large factor of it is to prepare students for life after high school and professionalism. And like Mr. Ross said, the end goal is to prevent deviations from the educational process.

Jordan Long: I can see that.

You have every right to do what you think you need to do, but we need to keep order and safety within our school. We are trying to prepare you guys for the outside world because if you go sit in front of your boss wearing a Playboy shirt, that won’t fly unless your boss is Hugh Hefner.”

— Mr. Braggs, 9th Grade Principal

Sutton Dozier: And that’s why reform is such a big part of having a dress code in the first place. Like you said, a big part of all of this is that it can be perceived as outdated by some. And you’re right about fashion trends playing a major role in the controversy.

Jordan Long: Yeah, I mean, we’ll never really have any policy that students and teachers unanimously agree upon. Some things just don’t stand the test of time, and things that used to work, might not work now.

Sutton Dozier: Yeah, you’re right about that. Mr. Ross had some interesting points on that too. He said, “We will never make a policy that everyone agrees with. When I rewrote the dress code to what we currently use, I took a lot of heat from both teachers and students. I probably wasn’t the most popular person for a while, but I never felt like the standard of having a student come in, taking some sort of measurement, and saying ‘you’re good to go’ or ‘you can go home,’ was the best interaction to have with students. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s what I set out to change.”

Jordan Long: I like that. Something like this is what changes people’s perspectives on things and gives them a whole different light on a topic like this.