Reasons Behind the Dress Code: Why It Changed

Students who sport the short shorts on the left side will most likely find themselves modeling orange dress code shorts by second block, making the outfit on the right the orange-free option.

Natalia Maverakis

Students who sport the short shorts on the left side will most likely find themselves modeling orange dress code shorts by second block, making the outfit on the right the orange-free option.

Important Note: This is an individual opinion piece that may or may not reflect the views of the editorial board and the publication.

This year Vista not only welcomed another year of students, but also a new dress code.

The most notable changes between last year’s and this year’s policies are the rules regarding bottoms and spaghetti straps.

When returning students, including myself, discovered the change, the responses were not welcoming. Comments from “unfair” to “sexist towards girls” were thrown around in conversations along with accusations directed towards parents.

Few people favor the new policy. Even fewer understand why it was changed.

So before we slander school rules, let’s review the circumstance. Why did the policy change? Because students ignored the old policy.

“Bottom line is it changed because students were not wearing shorts to thumb length,” said Lori Emmington, Vista’s vice principal.

Before the change, Emmington was the main proponent of the more lenient policy and talked the administration into accepting a dress code no one else had. Compared to Folsom Middle School’s shorts policy, Vista’s dress code policy was a freedom students were trusted with.

However, students abused it.

Even students began to notice the exposed butts and bra straps.

“Although it may seem unfair in certain aspects,” said senior Natalia Maverakis, “it saves me a little embarrassment when girls are walking around in shorts that they really should not be wearing. It can get gross.”

The dress code became a battle. Shorts were worn that had no inseam. Spaghetti strap racerback tops looked nearly strapless from behind. The clothing worn did not reflect a professional learning environment.

“There’s an appropriate way to dress for school versus what’s appropriate for after school, for different social environments,” said Emmington. The new dress code shifted clothing trends back to more acceptable garments.

However, the change didn’t only occur due to student action, but also due to parent complaints. Middle school parents were appalled by the leniency, and when parents complain, administration must respond.

Here’s the conflict. There is a difference between these policies because they refer to different age groups. What is deemed appropriate for a middle school student to wear and what is appropriate for a high school student to wear are two very different things. Expecting two separate age groups to dress under the same limitations and guidelines is unrealistic.

The maturity jump between the two creates a notable difference between attire acceptability and matureness: what is deemed “provocative” and “inappropriate” for 12-year-olds is not the same for 17-year-olds. It is like expecting a grown woman to dress like an eighteen-year-old girl.

“I understand the schools perspective on why they want to limit it, but I think it’s between a girl and her parents,” said senior Courtland McCoy.

I agree. Attire is a personal choice between a child and a parent, not a student and other parents.

Other parents should not worry how other peoples’ children dress. As long as their children dress appropriately to their tastes, then they should be satisfied.

On another note, when regarding the dress code, we have been affiliating it with limiting girls’ way of dressing. This is not true: the dress code does not focus on girls, it focuses on fashion trends.

According to Emmington, in 2000, administration had to deal with boys sagging their pants and they instituted the rule regarding no visible undergarments. Now in 2013, short-shorts and crop-tops are the fad, so the dress code is going to lean towards apprehending those violators.

These fashion trends make shopping a pain, which leads to the excuse that buying dress code adhering shorts is nearly impossible.

After failing to find shorts in local retail stores due to the shift towards fall fashion, I took my shorts hunt to the Internet. On American Eagle’s website, I found three pairs of Bermuda shorts that followed dress code out of 21 shorts selections. On Tilly’s website, I found 12 pairs of long shorts out of 63 shorts. While they might be rare and not fashion forward, there are shorts available that meet school requirements.

So the school policy is not impossible and unprovoked, it’s simply unfavorable. But, it is a consequence of students’ actions. Maybe fashion trends will change and the rules will be altered yet again, or maybe it will be permanent. Time will tell, but for now it’s time to lengthen shorts or shrug the shoulders.