by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer
Have you ever read Kentlake’s dress code? Do you understand the rules? Or have you ever seen somebody been dress coded? Although many might say yes to these questions, if asked to elaborate, most of us wouldn’t be able to list the rules accurately. People don’t know the details of the dress code. And in addition they don’t know the purpose of the entire dress code and it’s individual parts. A lot of people will probably say that it’s to prevent revealing clothing at school, and although that’s not wrong, it isn’t the entire answer. The dress code is intended to keep students dressing “comfortably in a manner that is considered professional in preparation for real world career/vocational expectations.” The expectation from students is that they dress in a way that is not distracting for other students.
These distractions are mainly to prevent sexual distractions in class, like for instance a girl wearing a very revealing top and short shorts would distract a lot of guys in class, preventing learning. That’s a perfectly valid reason to have a dress code, because that is something that infringes on the learning experience of students as well as possibly encouraging the guys to do something hormonal and irresponsible. This same principle is used to prevent guys from wearing revealing clothing as well, which is why guys can’t show up to school shirtless or with clothing that reveals their crotch.
Another reason they have a dress code is to prevent distracting references to drugs or alcohol on articles of clothing. This, on the surface, seems like a valid rule, but do not always judge a book by its cover. Obviously, for the same reason kids cannot be naked in class, you cannot have pornographic or overly sexual images on your clothing, but where do we draw the line for drugs and alcohol? Is it really distracting to have a Budweiser logo or a marijuana leaf on your shirt? It is not. Speaking from personal experience, nobody notices when you have that kind of a shirt on, and even if they do, it does not become a class distraction. It disrupts learning more to have the teacher stop and dress code you for wearing it, because then they must stop class and you have to leave to put on a new shirt in the office.
The school system has a belief that on top of it being a distraction, these logos also encourage kids to drink and smoke. This could not be further from the truth, as this is not one of the reasons that kids and teenagers decide to drink. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “environmental factors, such as the influence of parents and peers, also play a role in alcohol use. For example, parents who drink more and who view drinking favorably may have children who drink more.” It does not make sense to have a rule that does not protect anyone, and in reality, infringes on my 1st amendment rights to freedom of expression. Not every kid has control over the clothing they have available to them at home. They may have hand-me-downs and do not endorse underage drinking but need a clean shirt to wear to school.
We need to rethink and rewrite the dress code at Kentlake to accurately address the issues at hand. If the school actually wants to help crack down on underage drinking, then we should not be giving teenagers more things to rebel against, given that rebellion is a major cause for partaking in illegal activities. Get out and encourage our administration to reconsider these rules to accurately reflect the fight against underage drinking and smoking, and you can save teenagers from alcoholism.