The CRHS dress code is in need of proper revision


It’s a term that every student and teacher at Coginchaug Regional High School is familiar with: Dress code. While plenty of students view the dress code as both dated and primarily geared towards female bodies, the policy has remained the same with little to no revision for years on end. I, like many others, have dressed in violation of the school’s dress code countless times, but this is not due to a lack of care, or to be viewed as an act of protest or defiance; rather, it is to express my individuality and wear what I easily have access to. The truth of the matter is with an outdated policy, how can we constantly be expected to wear outfits that align with these regulations? 

The Coginchaug handbook says that: “Girls [may not reveal/wear] completely bare shoulders/spaghetti straps, halter tops or tank tops less than an inch wide. Boys [may not wear] tank tops.” The explanation for our school’s outmoded policy is that students “must conform to minimum health, safety and welfare standards.” When female students do not cover their shoulders, are they infringing those standards?  If a student were to wear a sleeveless top, are they endangering themselves or their peers?  Perhaps the dress code is not entirely modeled around health and welfare, but rather, a dated perception of female modesty entrenched in patriarchal ideologies.  

In total honesty, it seems entirely unwarranted for Coginchaug’s dress code to remain almost identical to when it was written while styles and attire are constantly changing and evolving as years progress. For instance, wearing a garment “that is torn, ragged, or that has holes,” defies the administration’s regulations, but how many times have you seen high school students wearing ripped jeans, or walked into the juniors department of a store and seen that the only jeans offered for sale are ripped? Another example of this is that many of the tops in the juniors clothing department are cropped, making it increasingly harder to find shirts that don’t show any of your midriff since, as you can guess, that is also prohibited. It is wholly clear that it is not only irritating to abide by the CRHS dress code at times, but also inconvenient for a multitude of students. 

The first ever dress code law was introduced in 1969 by the Supreme Court. It was created after students attended school wearing black armbands in an attempt to protest the Vietnam War. Because of this, dress codes were used as a way to limit these expressions due to widespread concern that the educational environment would be disrupted. How did we go from using dress code related regulations to limit planned protests to controlling the lengths of skirts, revealing of shoulders, and wearing shirts with cut-off sleeves? It all traces back to societal standards of how women should present themselves modestly, yet here we are a whole fifty-two years later living with similar misogynistic views. 

The Coginchaug dress code has proved to be both out of date and aimed primarily towards controlling outfits that female students wear. I would like to make it abundantly clear that I am not opposed to having a dress code, but I am against many of the parts currently written in the handbook and believe it is one hundred percent necessary to make a variety of adjustments so that it is less strict and equal for all students. I recognize that this is a universal issue that many schools struggle with, but without a reformed dress code, incoming CRHS students will continue to struggle with these regulations. It is well past the time that administrators make much needed changes to their policy and address it to the school as a whole.