Home Uncategorized Dress Code Incident Raises Concern

Dress Code Incident Raises Concern

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BHS Junior Alida Beste received a dress code violation for the first time this year. She thinks the policy is too vague and needs to change. | Photo: Alexandre Silberman/Register

Alida Beste is an honor roll student, three sport varsity athlete and an accomplished junior at Burlington High School. Last week she was called to the last place you’d expect to find her: the principal’s office.

Her violation: dress code.

“I don’t think of myself as someone who dresses provocatively,” Beste said. “I wouldn’t come to school wearing something I’m not comfortable with.”

While walking down the hallway before class on Sept. 20, Beste was pulled aside by Assistant Principal Noel Green. They went into his office where he introduced himself and explained that the length of her shorts was inappropriate. Wanting to be respectful, Beste agreed with his statements and changed into gym shorts until her mother brought shorts to BHS. The shorts her mother brought were equally short but were not a “flowy” material, according to Beste.

“I just felt like this is not cool and this is kind of a waste of time,” she said in an interview. “It took about 20 minutes out of my class in the morning.”

Beste is frustrated with the decision to single her out.

“Why me?” she said. “I think there are other people in the school that are much more likely to be pulled aside for that kind of thing.”

When her mother arrived with a new pair of shorts, her entire first block Pre-Calculus class walked down to the office in solidarity. Dozens of junior girls wore short shorts the following school day, as part of an effort to rebel against the policy.

This is the first dress-code violation Beste has received in three years at the high school. She was asked to change once while in middle school, she said. Beste attended Edmunds Middle School which required short length to match the length of one’s arm. She does not know anyone at the high school who has been called out for violating the policy.

“Nobody has really been dress-coded in so long,” she said. “People are wondering: ‘Why now?’”

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The dress code policy as seen in the digital version of the BHS student handbook. | Photo: Alexandre Silberman/Register

Pushing for change

Beste’s violation has prompted growing questions and concern amongst members of the student body over the clarity of the BHS policy.

“The dress code is not really defined in our school; it’s really vague,” she said.

According to the BHS student handbook, “Pants, shirts and skirts must cover underwear and be of appropriate length.” There is no specification of acceptable lengths. The handbook also states that it is the responsibility of administration to determine if a student is in violation of the dress code.

The landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” While the ruling provides for freedom of expression in schools, it allows for exceptions to allow undistracted learning.

Beste wants clarity and specifics to make less of the policy up to the discretion of administration.

In response to her incident, she brought her concerns to the attention of the BHS Council, a new student government organization. Beste hopes the Council can bring about change to the student handbook.

Gender inequality?

Beste does not feel the dress code is being equally enforced across both genders.

“There are kids in my classes who are boys who are showing their underpants,” she said. “The teachers just say, ‘Hey, pull your pants up,’” she said, adding that they are not pulled out of class and asked to change.

She wants a clear policy that creates equal enforcement across genders.

“People say that girls wearing short shorts or other revealing clothes is inappropriate because it’s distracting to boys, and I think that’s not fair.”

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Alexandre Silberman, 18, is a reporter and multimedia journalist. Outside of the BHS Register, his work has appeared in publications such as USA TODAY, the Huffington Post, the Burlington Free Press, the Addison County Independent and Kids VT Magazine. He is a former Al Neuharth Free Spirit Scholar, and runner up for National High School Journalist of the Year. Alexandre received the Journalism Education Association's Student Journalist Impact Award for his reporting on teacher contract negotiations. He currently serves as an Los Angeles Times HS Insider Youth Advisory Board Member. In April 2016, Alexandre travelled to Cuba to document the first American youth baseball exchange since the embargo. He enjoys hiking and reading in his spare time.

5 COMMENTS

  1. There is always going to be a rule about looking like a total “slut”. There is no gender inequality. There is also a difference between showing your underwear and showing ALL OF YOUR THIGH. Germany has told women to wear sneakers instead of heals so they can run from rapists. Here it is plain and simple: Gender inequality is a myth in today’s America; Gender is not a social construct but a biological reality, transgenderism has gone way too far.

  2. Hi Kolby,

    I respect your opinion, but I don’t think you have the most accurate education on the matters of gender inequality because virtually it isn’t embedded into any high school curriculum. What does it mean to you to “look like a total slut”? Girls wearing shorts that are an inch shorter than where there fingertips end when extended down? Since when did the thigh become something that needs to be censored? I guess I’m just ignorant for having absolutely no idea that the thigh could be so triggering! So many people to this day blame the victims of rape, accusing her of “looking like a slut” or “she was asking for it with that outfit”, when really the blame is 100% on the man that committed such a horrible, dehumanizing act.
    Also, Germany is not America. Here, we seem to sweep these problems under the rug and they go unheard of. Gender inequality is a huge problem in the US. Do you ever see women represented in history? Why is congress only comprised of about 19% women? Why does the media commercialize women as sexual objects, rather than human beings? There are documentaries on all of these topics. You should consider taking a women’s studies class, just to enlighten yourself because you just aren’t aware of the problems subordinate groups face because you yourself are born into a privileged superordinate group.

  3. Dear Jamie,

    You will most likely not see this, however, I would like to say that a very close family member of mine was raped by someone she loved. I understand the hardships they go through and what they look like emotionally.
    Also, my view is and will always be my view. I choose not to go to a class about feminism, and all I will hear is blaming men. Today, feminism has exploded into radical manipulation through education, social media, etc. If I go to these classes, I would be sitting through false claims such as the gender wage gap, or the whole idea of “men and rape culture”.
    Today’s feminism attacks men for ultimately nothing but blame. The facts are as so: dress like you want to be assaulted, odds are you will (for both men and women). And to believe that I was born in a privileged group, is appalling and absurd. If you are referring to my gender and race, we, I, am the minority.

    Thank you,
    Kolby R. LaMarche

  4. For one, I just want you to know that I’m not here to attack you! I just want you to understand, so please hear me out. For one, I just wanted to say, you’re right, I don’t know what your race is, or even your gender. You could totally be a girl for all I know, so I apologize for just assuming. Despite what your specific race is or gender is, white men are actually the majority/superordinate group in this United States. There are in fact more women than men in the U.S., about 51% of female compared to about 49% male in the U.S. population. BUT, women are still considered a minority group because they do not have the same equality as men do (I learned that in my sociology class last year).

    Secondly, it is very important to understand what feminism actually is. Feminism is advocating for women’s rights and hoping to gain equality to men politically, socially, and economically. It is actually often misunderstood that feminists attack men and put all the blame on them. And sometimes that is the case, but this is not acceptable for people to be doing. I really believe everyone needs to support each other if we want to move forward in our society today.

    I am taking a women’s studies class right now and it’s been the most enlightening class for me yet. There are just a few boys in the class, but they have also learned so much already. I advocate for feminism, and what I hope is for not only boys, but for everyone to just be aware that there IS inequality, and not only for women, but for other minorities like LGBTQ and ALANA groups as well.

    It is statistically proven that men commit more crimes than women in the United States. There is a brilliant documentary called “Tough Guise 2” by anti-violence educator and cultural theorist Jackson Katz. Pretty much this documentary revolves around how cultural ideas shape manhood and how violence influences men. To sum it up really quickly, men are taught to drive out HUMAN characteristics – love, compassion, crying when you’re sad – at a young age. When express these feelings, they are seen as weak, or their peers may call them dehumanizing names (I bet you can think of one that starts with a P). They feel rejected by their group, so they lash out using violence to “assert their masculinity”. This stigma needs to change because it’s a huge problem in our society. The film looks at the Sandy Hooks shooting and why Adam Lanza did what he did.

    The wage gap is real whether you believe it or not. If there was a male and a female both in the same profession and the same exact position for that job, the male would be making more money compared to the female, even if she had worked there longer. This is also referred to the “glass ceiling” which is when a woman (or other minority groups) can’t advance in their profession. Please research it.

    I really hope that you would be willing to open up to this topic because it is very real and it just is not visible for people who aren’t experiencing the oppression first hand. This could be potentially why the Nordic countries, especially Denmark, are ranked the happiest countries in the world. There are about 37% women in parliament in Denmark compared to the roughly 19% here in the United States. Both men and women in the Nordic countries believe in social and gender equality and support each other. Women in parliament are more likely to bring these types of problems (ex. the wage gap) to the top of the agenda to be taken care of because they have experienced the oppression first hand. This is why we need more women, LGBTQ, and ALANA groups in our congress.

    I hope someday in the future you can take one of these classes and finally be able to empathize.

    I respect if you don’t, but please please please just look at these two links. It might open your eyes a little bit.

    Jackson Katz on violence against women TedTalk:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism TedTalk:

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