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Dress complaints cause crackdown

Rise in dress code enforcement creates sparks

By Robyn McLuen

One of these things is not like the others. Khakis, collared shirt, fingertip length skirt, hoodie and three-quarters of a pair of pants.

As the summer approaches, RAHS students participate in a tradition as old as the pancake breakfast and as prestigious as the wingman award: summer dress code violations.

RAHS Dean of Students Mrs. Nuka Nurzhanov believes that when as the temperature increases, so do dress code violations.

“Dress code violations have increased in the second semester of school, so I have been paying more attention to the dress code,” said Nurzhanov. “The increase of complaints about student dress code violations from staff, parents, and even students reminded me that I needed to be more effective in dress code enforcement. It became clear that I needed to do my job to support the professional culture of our school.”

Though Nurzhanov is doing her job by making sure students comply with the dress code, there has been some backlash.

Senior Tatiyana Jenkins believes there has been a significant increase in the enforcement of the dress code since when she started at RAHS in September of 2012.

“From my freshman year to now, dress code has most definitely changed,” said Jenkins. “It’s ramped up a ridiculous amount. It’s to the point where we’re now more focused on ‘making sure you’re in dress code’ than the learning that’s supposed to take place in a school.”

Jenkins worries that the enforcement of this rule interferes with her and other students’ education.

“I HATE that I’m always being watched and dress code seems to be bigger than my education,” said Jenkins. “I could do without being pulled out of class, I can do without constantly being harassed because administration doesn’t know their only policy. I can also do without being targeted because I happen to have ‘more going on’ body wise that I have to have everything covered.”

Though Jenkins has concerns, Nurzhanov reminds students to reflect on themselves, and to think on whether or not they are complying with the dress code contract they signed at the beginning of the year.

“I would like students to reflect on how they judge, and on unfair criticism,” said Nurzhanov. “The best attitude and answer I received this year from a dress coded freshman, was, ‘Do not apologize, I understand you’re just doing your job.’”

Student discipline is a primary part of Nurzhanov’s job. She cares about the dress code in particular because she believes that it is a part of the school culture.

“The school was founded upon a professional culture and we reside in a professional environment,” said Nurzhanov. “The dress code should be respected and enforced.”

“We all signed the form agreeing to abide to the dress code,” said senior Senay Emmanuel. “That must be honored, but at the same time, people need to understand fully what they signed through better wording and a balance of clear expectations with ‘open to interpretation’ rules.”

RAHS senior Harkarn Baines also believes that there has been an increase in dress code enforcement, and that it’s not something students should worry about.

“I just feel like it is being enforced more strictly,” said Baines, “and to be honest there is nothing wrong with that. It’s the same dress code but now that people are getting called out on it, it’s no different. Yeah there may be a few instances where the rules may be enforced too strictly but it’s the staff’s job to enforce the rules and [ours] as students to follow them.”

This issue was addressed at an ASB meeting on 31  April 2016 , which seniors Baines and Emmanuel attended.

“After sitting with ASB during a meeting about the dress code there was a great point brought up that we need to be more specific in our dress code,” said Baines, “that our dress code is business casual, but what is this business casual based on?”

Emmanuel also believes that the definition of business casual is not always clear. This issue was addressed at recent ASB and PTSA meetings that were held because of a student making a claim on Facebook about improper handling of dress code enforcement.

“The definition of ‘business casual’ is still evolving,” said Emmanuel. “[At the PTSA meeting we discussed] a need for less ambiguity in the female dress code in particular. A better outline of expected dress guidelines needs to be made with full understanding.”

Students discussed several ways to improve the dress code itself by cutting out wiggle room.

“Next year, the new principal, students, faculty, and administration need to come to the table and review the dress code,” said Emmanuel. “Greater understanding needs to be developed and possible edits need to be made so that there is consensus across the board.”
“I think having the dress code be clear as day [would help],” said Jenkins. “I think because the dress code can be interpreted in different ways is where the fault is in it.”

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