As summer draws near, there are marked changes in the way students are dressing. Hoping to stay cool in the warm weather, students pull out tank-tops, short skirts, shorts, and summer dresses, much to the displeasure of administrators.
These noticeable trends amongst the student body have prompted conversations between Principal Stanley Teitel and the cabinet, which is comprised of eleven assistant principals. “People were not wearing things we thought were appropriate for school,” Teitel said. “It has been brought to my attention in previous years, but it became clear now that we have to say more that just ‘what is appropriate to wear to school,’ because everyone has their own opinion of what that means.”
In the past month, the cabinet members have written and revised four drafts of a proposed dress code. They reviewed dress codes from other schools, such as Townsend Harris and Bronx Science High School, to help them formulate their own.
The provisions are thus: phrases and sayings on apparel must be in good taste; midriffs, lower backs, undergarments, and shoulders are not to be exposed; the hemline of all skirts, shorts, and dresses must fall below the fingertips when students stand upright with their arms at their sides.
“Many young ladies wear denim skirts which are very tight and are short to begin with, and when they sit down, they only rise up, because there’s no where else to go,” Teitel said. “If they’re at finger length when they stand, then at least when they sit, the length will be livable.”
Teitel feels that it is within the administration’s jurisdiction to pass the policy and amend it if the cabinet finds other styles of student dress to be inappropriate. “It’s our responsibility to create a learning environment,” he said. “The bottom line is, some things are a distraction, and we don’t need to distract students from what is supposed to be going on here, which is learning.”
Teitel plans on implementing disciplinary action for students who violate the dress code. The first time, students will have to wear a large grey t-shirt and lose their out-to-lunch privileges for the day. A second offense will result in parents having to come to the school.
The dress code will go into effect starting in September, and it will be both posted on the Stuyvesant Web site and e-mailed to students before the fall term commences.
The student body has mixed emotions regarding the proposed change.
Junior Teresa Tai feels the provisions of the code are impractical. “It’s only natural that people will wear less as the weather gets warmer,” she said.
Others believe that inappropriate dress is not a widespread problem at Stuyvesant. “Most students don’t really push the envelope so to speak, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything too provocative at Stuy,” junior Dripto Debroy said. “It is kind of uncalled for, seeing as Stuy kids are relatively not slutty or inappropriate.”
“With the new dress code, someone can wear a completely ridiculous outfit or super bright colored clothing that might be appropriate, but would be even more distracting than a pair of short shorts or a spaghetti strap dress,” sophomore Ellie Shanahan said.
Yet Teitel believes that his criteria are fair. “Remember that the length depends on the body, as it is all proportional,” he said. “It’s not like I’m picking on tall people or short people, because I’m using you as your own measure.”
Tai, however, finds that the dress code seems to target specific groups. “I feel that this dress code is targeted towards girls,” she said. “This might be because there seems to be an idea that it is the nature of males to be distracted by the ways females dress or reveal skin and that females should then have a sense of self respect by limiting the way they dress.”
Shanahan agreed, adding that, “it is hard to find shorts that are fingertip length since they usually come much longer or much shorter, and it is completely unfair to ask people not to wear tank-tops in 95 degree weather.”
Students have already begun to take action against the proposed dress code change. Sophomore Leopold Spohngellert and junior Daniel Solomon organized a private event on Facebook to raise student awareness regarding the issue. According to the event’s description, they believe “it is time to push back against an administration that consistently tries to limit our ability and to enjoy a happy existence as a student community.”
Furthermore, Solomon created an online petition, via a Google spreadsheet, in which students could leave their name and Stuyvesant ID numbers if they were opposed to the dress code. In the past week, the petition has garnered 768 signatures, and Solomon hopes to present it to Teitel on Tuesday, June 14.
“I love the idea of us coming together as a student body and standing up for our rights and our freedom of expression,” Shanahan said of the petition. “I am thrilled to be surrounded by such smart kids everyday who will fight against the man if need be.”