Dress code sparks backlash

Ellie Ritter, Taylor Stephenson and Kaylan Ware

Last Friday, the school’s decision to put the dress code into greater effect sparked backlash from students.

That morning, Assistant Principal Susan Weber came over the intercom and asked teachers to check their classes for dress code violations.

lily ..
Photo courtesy of Lily Guthrie): Guthrie and sophomore Ayla McGinnis stood outside of the school before classes on Monday morning to protest the dress code. Joined by around 20 other students, the girls “peacefully protested the misogynistic system,” Guthrie said.

While nearly 15 girls were sent to the office for dress code violations following the announcement, no boys were reprimanded.

Senior Grayson Smith was among the girls rebuked and believes the dress code is inherently sexist.

“I have definitely seen boys with rolled-up shorts that were just as short as some of the girls’, and boys wear tank tops all the time,” Smith said, “yet not a single boy got dress coded.”

Because she views it as sexist, Smith thinks the dress code is unfair.

“It’s really taken to the extreme,” she said. “We come to school to learn. It’s not about our appearance at all.”

Junior Simon Ray agrees with Smith and thinks that the dress code is misogynistic.

“I’ve seen plenty of girls get in trouble or least be told to cover up for wearing a tank top, but I’ve never seen it happen to a guy,” he said. “A majority of the rules are written about women’s clothing, making it specifically targeted against girls.”

While junior Lucy Ahmann did not get reprimanded for a dress code violation, the administration’s actions still shocked her.

“I was just outraged that this is something that happens at our school,” she said. “I generally feel that [Decatur] is a pretty safe place, pretty open and liberal, but to hear that [the dress coding] was happening at my school was really disappointing.”

At the end of the school day on Friday, Principal Arlethea Williams announced over the intercom that the reinforcement of the dress code was partially due to the arrival of warm weather. She also said that if students had questions or concerns, they could speak to her.

“Before you go and protest this, know what you’re protesting and why we’re doing it,” Williams said in her announcement.

In spite of William’s attempt to quell the adversity, students gathered in front of the school on Monday before classes in order to protest the dress code. Around 25 girls and a few boys showed up wearing clothes that deliberately broke the dress code, including tank tops, crop tops and shorts.

Other students carried signs reading phrases like “Is my clothing more important than my education?” and “Decatur administration needs to change, not the students.” These signs were also taped up around the building.

(Photo by Ellie Ritter): Junior Lucy Andrew, in addition to wearing a sign, brought shirts for students who were reprimanded for dress code violations.
(Photo by Ellie Ritter): Junior Lucy Andrew, in addition to wearing a sign, brought shirts for students who were reprimanded for dress code violations.

The protest was organized through a Facebook group created by junior Happy Herold. Over 156 students – males and females alike – joined the group and pledged their support. Several students, such as juniors Katie Adams and Ray, offered to give out t-shirts to anyone who was asked to change.

For junior Lucy Andrew, the protest meant more than causing a direct change. It also represented the sense of community she feels within the school.

“All these girls banded together to fight unfair and misogynistic policies at our school,” Andrew said. “It’s so good to see girls support each other in a world where girls are supposed to see each other as competition.”