Dress Code: New year, new look

Maren Jones

Walking around campus seeing sweats, basketball shorts, and tank tops might make you think it’s a Friday. However, these clothing items are all updates to the dress code. Attempting to prepare students for the casual nature of college, the dress code focuses on helping students determine how they learn best.

Dean of Students Cari Harrison explained, “As a college prep school we are asking students to take more ownership about presenting their best self each day.” She also believes that dress code is not the most important aspect of school, noting that “students’ emotional state and sense of belonging and purpose” matter more.

Although the new rules allow for a more comfortable learning environment, they create some inconsistencies. Because of the relatively vague policies, teachers and administrators carry the final say. The problem with these “final says” is that teachers have different definitions of school appropriate. One may be a stickler for the rules, where another may be more lax. Senior Kate Murphy expressed her frustrations saying that “It’s so confusing; I’m never exactly sure what I can wear.”

For teachers the vague dress code reintroduces the responsibility of dress coding students. Despite this, some teachers are uncomfortable or unwilling to look for minor violations believing that it is “the student’s and parent’s responsibility to adhere to a dress code that is conducive to a proper learning environment”(Student Handbook 42).

Social studies teacher Robert Payne feels that we “either do what we are now doing with the dress code or you go to a uniform. Anything in between is just too hard to enforce consistently and fairly.”

Overall these changes have been positive for students. The new rules give students the ability to express their individuality. Students have reacted positively, some especially excited to be more comfortable at school. Senior Kye Wyrsch added that he is thankful for the changes but feels like “they should allow more.” He does not understand why “hats and hoods are frowned upon in such a welcoming place.”

These changes to the dress code have created freedom for students, but also highlight the constant improvement Bellarmine has shown to be open to.