Manual has recently implemented several changes to the dress code for the 2014-2015 school year: form-fitting clothing and bandanas are no longer explicitly prohibited, and the fingertip rule—which stated that all pants, skirts, or dresses must go to or past fully extended fingertips—has also been abolished.
However, the code still states that the administration reserves the right to determine if clothes are appropriate for school or not, as in previous years.
“We left it more open to interpretation to be determined by the teachers,” said Assistant Principal Matt Kingsley. “I’ve told teachers that they can read the dress code just like I can. If they think someone is out of dress code, they can write up a referral. We had issues with students being sent down for dress code and fixing themselves on the way down, so we would send them back up without a referral. If teachers give out the referrals and then send them down, I can take care of it.”
Nevertheless, several students, like Destinee Siebe (12, YPAS), are happy with the changes overall.
“Since we all have different body types, I think this may have to suffice for now. We can’t use a ‘fingertip’ or ‘x number of inches above the knee’ rule because it means that some aren’t being at all modest and others can hardly wear shorts at all in warmer months. I see the potential for subjectivity, but I do see the rule as an overall improvement,” Siebe said.
Sarah Olive (11, HSU) thinks that this gives students more freedom to show that they can dress appropriately even without rigid guidelines.
“I think giving the students a chance to prove that they can function in an environment that’s more relaxed about the dress code shows a more trusting relationship between the students and faculty. I think we can definitely handle it,” said Olive.
Luke Pearson (11, YPAS), a new junior at Manual, found that the new dress code to be unclear and confusing.
“I would like to point out that it does not specify what ‘vulgar or offensive messages’ are. One may support a cause or organization that others call offensive,” said Pearson.
In past years, bandanas were banned for implying gang affiliations, but this year, the ban has been lifted.
“I’m fine with it now,” said Kingsley. “We got rid of the (bandana) clause because there were other things in there that sort of covered it. You’re not allowed to wear a head cover anyway. Gang membership is not that big a deal in our school.”
As the year goes on, it is likely that questions regarding the dress code will be answered out of experience. With the dawn of a more laid-back dress code, however, there may be discrepancies in how different teachers enforce it.
“What one teacher may find disruptive to class may differ from what another teacher finds disruptive. Unfortunately, this could make it more difficult for students to defend their outfits because they can’t really say ‘well this skirt is no shorter than my fingertips so it should be appropriate.’ Hopefully, the faculty will keep these things in mind and not use these new rules as an opportunity to manipulate the dress code to fit their standards,” Olive said.
As soon as news broke of a new dress code, students began to notice one important thing had been taken off the list of banned clothing: yoga pants.
“We told the teachers that girls can wear yoga pants, but it can’t be the only thing they’re wearing,” Kingsley explained. “They can wear yoga pants, but their butt needs to be covered.”