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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Students and Teachers Reflect on the Dress Policy

(Courtesy of Public Libraries Online)
(Courtesy of Public Libraries Online)

The WIS administration recently reminded students and teachers of the Dress Policy. The reminder was sent out in the upper school’s weekly Devil’s Details, beginning the week of October 4, and teachers were previously reminded of expectations in a faculty meeting in early October.

The Dress Policy, found in the Community Handbook, provides guidelines for students’ dress–what they can wear and what they can’t.

“It’s not so much a change as much as there is a more purposeful approach to the dress code,” 11/12  Assistant Principal James Bourke said.

With everyone back on campus, the leadership team saw the need to remind the community.

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“We’re hearing from teachers and some students in our community who are feeling uncomfortable,” Bourke said. 

Both assistant principals believe their role is to uphold the dress policy. Andrew Sopher, a middle and upper school mathematics teacher, agrees.

“The dress code is just, in my mind, another rule,” Sopher said. “It’s as simple as [not] running in hallways.” 

However, he wouldn’t dress code a female student if her bra straps are showing because “as a male teacher, that is outside of [his] comfort zone.”

There is a wide variety of opinions on the dress policy. 9/10 Assistant Principal Allison Ewing said she has heard both sides of the argument: those who are against the dress policy and those who support it.

“I understand the reason behind it,” upper school English teacher Susan Chung Fontaine said. “I like the idea of respecting the institution and community, and I like the idea of holding a certain standard.”

Many students are aware of the dress policy and are opposed to it.“Unless it’s something really revealing–like you can see everything–the only person it’s really disturbing is the person being dress coded because it makes them feel like [expletive],” sophomore Lila Lefevre-Iwata said. 

“I think it’s very sexist. I’ve never seen a man get dress-coded, and I’ve seen them walk around half-naked and no one even bats an eye.”

Sophomore Amara Mickle

Sophomore Charlotte Collins remembers teachers in previous years chasing after her, trying to talk to her about the dress policy and her clothes. Students added that the only thing the dress policy affects, if anything, is self-expression.

Sophomore Valeria Cuesta Lopez believes that the rule that teachers can report a student to administrators instead of directly telling them they’ve infringed on the dress code policy is unreasonable. 

“If you have a problem with me and my outfit, tell me directly,” Cuesta Lopez said. “But you have to have a reason behind it.”

Another common concern is bias in the policy.

“I think it’s very sexist,” sophomore Amara Mickle said.  “I’ve never seen a man get dress-coded, and I’ve seen them walk around half-naked and no one even bats an eye.”

Freshmen Zora Brown and Maria Cristina Restrepo agree that the dress code primarily restricts clothes that female-identifying students generally wear.

“I’d be interested to see the data,” Ewing said. She added that at her previous school, Bullis School, they had a period of time where teachers would track who they talked to and when they reviewed the data, “there was not a really vast difference” between male and female-identifying students.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations over the years about the dress code, and specifically, female-identifying and female-gendered students feel that it’s unfair,” Chung said. “And they have good arguments for that.”

Ewing and Bourke said they welcome discussions and student perspectives. Sopher and Chung Fontaine agree, hoping that the administration and students come to a fair and inclusive agreement.

“I don’t think everyone is an offender or even people are trying to disrespect the institution,” Chung said. “It’s just that we all have different points of where respect and comfort and standards lie.”

Nevertheless, many students still don’t feel like their concerns are heard and think there is a lack of clarity behind the dress code.

“It feels like the school should’ve done something to solve the issues around the dress policy ages ago, and they’ve still done nothing,” sophomore Alex Wiseman said. “It’s frustrating that this is still a conversation.”

By Isabella Duchovny

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Isabella Duchovny
Isabella Duchovny, Managing Editor

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