Students and staff divided over sexist dress code

Students and staff divided over sexist dress code

While the administration believes that the dress code is a guideline that contributes to a positive learning environment, many students think the vagueness of the policy can lead to unbalanced enforcement.

“We’re here for education, and the policy helps prevent students from wearing clothing that might disrupt the school day, such as clothes that depict drug paraphernalia or are revealing,” says Dean Cynthia Bumbry.

Some students took issue with the fact that the ETHS dress code policy is much less structured than the ones they encountered in middle school. “At Haven, the rule for shorts and skirts was that the hem had to go past your fingertips,” says freshman Callie Benson-Williams. “But here, all it says is that you can’t wear short shorts and skirts. It doesn’t really give any specifics.”

According to junior Daisy Chaudruc, the vagueness of the dress code policy is the reason why she and many other students think the fairness of the enforcement of the policy should be called into question.

“In my experience, black girls get dress coded more than white girls,” says Daisy. “If the dress code isn’t laid down, there is too much room for interpretation and it can become unfair.”
Beyond race, students have also noticed that body type makes a difference in how the dress code is enforced. Girls who have wider hips or are more developed than others are “dress-coded” more often, even when they are wearing the same clothes as girls who are less developed.

“There is definitely some truth to that,” adds Bumbry. “For staff members, some outfits are okay and some are not. I think instructions are very clear, and most of the time, it’s common sense.”

The issue of dress code is prevalent within other schools in Evanston as well. In March 2014, girls at Haven middle school protested the dress code that limited leggings or yoga pants, which the students called “sexist and unfair.” The protest gained national media coverage, including articles for the Huffington Post and Time.
While the enforcement of the ETHS dress code has had some inconsistencies this far, it was designed in hopes to foster a more positive place to learn for every student.