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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Controversy Surrounding the WIS Dress Code


WIS, similar to other private schools, has a dress code that is controversial as the students have begun to voice their discontent towards the WIS one. Teachers agree that the code is “too vague” and needs to be made more erektion pillerit specific before students enforce it yet are being told to discipline students accordingly.

What is the Current Dress Code?

The current dress code is essentially a list of seven do’s and don’ts directed towards creating a sense of professionalism around campus. These guidelines were created two years ago by students in the ISU, because during that time there was a push to update it.  Examples of these guidelines include covering all undergarments, midriffs, and wearing clothing with no inappropriate or derogatory messaging. Teachers and members of the administration are supposed to enforce the code and students are supposed to abide by it. The majority of the faculty and staff interviewed seemed to come to the same conclusion that the dress code could be more specific which would facilitate the process of enforcement.

Teachers shared their concerns about the broadness of the code, despite some potential advantages. “I think as it’s written it’s pretty open-ended and leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but it’s pretty clear on some do’s and don’ts. So in that sense, I like it a lot,” the Upper School Counselor, Anne Hutchinson, said.

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Upper School Math Teacher, Gary Piligian, had a similar opinion. “I think it’s pretty flexible. There’s no uniform and there are some guidelines that let students have individuality which I think is what they want,” Piligian said.

Is the dress code fair to both boys and girls?

Furthermore, there is a lot of disagreement about whether the dress code is fair to both girls and boys. When asked about whether Pilligian believed the dress code was equally fair to boys and girls he said “It probably could be a little bit more gender neutral, in the wording of the dress code. I don’t think our code is purposely written to be gender-specific.”  

As the conversation arose, Hutchinson, shared her opinion on whether the code is fair to both girls and boys and said, “Any dress code is hard to be fair to girls and boys because the fashion available to you is so different.”

The WIS dress code is not the only dress code that suffers from gender inequality. “I think no matter what, dress-codes target women, and I would say that ours is no different, except for the fact that it has tried to take out the gender in the non-use of pronouns, but, historically, dress-codes target women, ” Beta Eaton, Upper School Dean of Students said.

Student’s Personal  Experience

Freshman, Louise Emblad, has been impacted by getting dress-coded. “A while ago I was dress-coded by a teacher and the administration decided my brother actually had to go home to get me a change of clothes since I didn’t have my PE clothes,” said Emblad.  That moment, her brother was working on his extended essay, which can be considered one of the biggest assignments of the IB curriculum.

Getting a dress code violation also impacted her body image. “This incident made me really insecure because I felt that just because of the way my body looked, I couldn’t wear certain things that other students could,” said Emblad.

Can certain clothing be considered distracting?

This brought up another dispute about the reasons why students, primarily girls, were asked to change during school hours and if it’s distracting to others around them.

When Hutchinson shared her stance on the current WIS dress code, she said, “Of course for boys it could be distracting for the hormonal reasons, seeing more revealing clothing that distracts them.”

Sophomore Diego Maldonado, answered the question of whether he had ever been distracted by another student’s clothing, “I have never been distracted by a student. I feel like they’re entitled to wear whatever they want.”

Eaton, had a similar opinion when asked about her opinion on the current dress code and said, “because we are a society that spends a lot of time thinking and emphasizing bodies, I think that skin or form-fitting clothing that emphasizes certain body types, those could be considered distracting.”

However, the discussion about whether it is a matter of distraction or not was contradicted by another teacher. “I don’t think it’s an issue of distraction, I think it’s an issue of appropriateness. I personally think that people dress-code students for not having appropriate attire in relation to their own person and not in a relationship between that person and another gender,” the teacher said.

Improvements that could be made

Both students and faculty have agreed that the dress code could make improvements, including making it more gender inclusive, and dealing with dress-coding students in an appropriate way to not bring down their body image or self-esteem.

“I don’t think the dress code works in a constructive way because I feel like no one really gets distracted by what people wear and it can kind of bring down the mindsets of people who get dress coded,” Maldonado said.

The general consensus from student body suggested that it should be more transparent and be enforced upon both genders equally.  

“I think that the dress code would be really good if it was enforced equally and if there was a lot more clarity surrounding it, ” junior Torin O’Brien said.

Emblad shared her opinion on the current WIS dress code and how it’s being implemented throughout the WIS community,  “At the end of the day the school is reinforcing that clothing is more important to them than a student’s success in school.”

By Rani Kumar & Natalie Sanchez

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    Abby BownJun 5, 2019 at 12:48 am

    I agree with this article and I think that the WIS dress code can use a lot of room for improvement. I myself have not been dress coded but my friends have and it makes them feel really insecure about what their clothes and it feels a little creepy that teachers take the time to notice and call you out on what you are wearing.