Teenagers have long loved expressing their personalities through fashion trends and experimental clothing choices. While the staff at West encourage this self-expression, there’s also the need for appropriate and safe dress while in the schoolhouse, thus the school (and ASD as a whole) has a dress code that’s been debated ever since its inception.
The official dress code consists of no hoods or hats in school, no foul language, promotion of drugs, violence or sex on clothing, etc. Bandanas have also been “dress coded” due to their suspected gang affiliation.
David Little, the curriculum principal at West, shared his thoughts about the dress code. “I don’t know what I would change about the dress code. I would like it to be forced uniformly. I would like to be in a full agreement; I would like everybody to be clear on it,” he said.
Little has been around the dress code for a long time, from currently being a principal to back when he was a student. When asked about the evolution of the dress code he said the following: “It’s about the same, I’ve only been doing this for about 15 years… every school I work at has been no hat, and no alcohol or gang signs, or gang affiliation, it’s always been no bandanas.”
Some students feel passionately about the dress code. Kelly Hase, a junior, is not a fan of the dress code. “Honestly, I think it sucks… I wish we could have hats; I want hats. There were hats the year before I came to high school here,” Hase says.
Hase believes there shouldn’t be a punishment for people obstructing the dress code. “I don’t think [the dress code] is a good thing. I don’t really care what people wear. I feel like mostly nobody else cares about what anyone wears, except for adults, or the faculty. I don’t think it’s right to punish them, I don’t think people’s clothing really offends anyone except the staff,” he says.
While the administration and the students are very separated on this debate, the security guards are not so much, as they do believe the dress code needs to be enforced, but they also see the student side of the debate.
Stanley “Charlie” Engel Jr is a security guard at West, is close to the student body, and thinks the dress code is necessary for safety reasons. “The dress code is here to reinforce what’s acceptable and what’s not, and just being inappropriate in school, and it keeps us able to identify kids. We have no hoods and no head gear, in case something goes bad in the halls, or in the classroom. If somebody has a hood on then it makes it hard to identify a kid,” Engel Jr says.
Although Engel Jr does believe the dress code is a good thing he would make one minor change if he could. “If I could change one thing about the dress code I would allow hats as long as there is no affiliation with gangs or alcohol,” Engel Jr says.
It’s very interesting to see how the student body and the staff feel about this sensitive topic. Either way, this debate has been going on for ages, and it will continue to be a debate between the students and the staff for plenty more years.