Issue 4.1 Pascale Burnett

The Seemingly Never-Ending Dress Code Debate

It seems that the dress code has become a prevalent point of contention at Rocky Hill School. Although many members of the community disagree on the exact changes they’d like to see, most are yearning for some kind of change. Of the nearly 100 people I recently surveyed, 66% of them said that they were not satisfied with the current dress code at Rocky Hill School. From this survey, it also became apparent that many members of our community share the same frustrations with the dress code. I got many responses saying, “there’s too much room for interpretation and debate” and, “make the dress code simple, please”.  Several people criticized the dress code, saying that it’s, “stricter for guys” and forces individuals to “comply to one distinct socially-created gender”. However, there are others that disagree. 14% of the people that I surveyed are satisfied with the dress code and another 20% say they are ambivalent. They argue that when the dress code becomes too loose, there’s no point in having one at all.


I recently sat down with Mr. Gnolfo, Director of Diversity, to discuss this topic. He told me that a committee has been established, under SMAC, to address the dress code. One of the main goals of this committee is to access the gender binary that is enforced by the current policies. 66% of surveyed community members feel that the current dress code enforces a gender binary. However, the gender binary was simply a prompt for the committee to take a closer look at the dress code as a whole. In doing this, Mr. Gnolfo and SMAC realized how “arbitrary” some of the language and restrictions in the dress code are. He also brought up with me the fact that parts of the dress code may not be socioeconomically conscious. He said that whether a student can afford clothing that fits into the dress code, “should not be a determining factor in where they get an education”. Not only Mr. Gnolfo, but survey respondents as well, talked about why some of our policies may be in place. Some suggest that perhaps the reason hooded sweatshirts are not allowed is simply what they represent in our society. A faculty member suggests that perhaps in our society hooded sweatshirts represent “thuggish behavior” and as a result, our school’s dress code reflects that. So what does the dress code committee purpose? Educate. Educate the students to make the right decisions. Then trust them to do the right thing. They aren’t necessarily suggesting a looser dress code, simply less arbitrary rules that make it easier to express oneself. People come at the dress code from different angles, but in the end, SMAC says that they will not negotiate on the gender issue.


Our community will have to agree to disagree when it comes to the dress code at Rocky Hill School. I’ve gotten varied responses from my survey ranging from one student saying, “I like dressing up for school” to another saying, “People tend to look better on dress down days”. I’ve had students curse the dress code saying it’s “cisnormative and misogynistic” and others say that “we’re making a big deal out of nothing”. While the solutions to fix the problem vary, many in this community agree that something has to change. I believe that there is not a perfect solution, we will not please everyone, but my hope is that our school can come to a consensus on what our needs are and how best to achieve them.


Pascale Burnett
<p>Pascale Burnett is in 10th grade at Rocky Hill School and is excited to be a co-editor in chief of The Tide. She joined The Tide to pursue her passion for writing and journalism. Pascale enjoys writing about controversial issues and reflecting the opinions of Rocky Hill community members. Pascale’s other interests are limited to wearing sweaters and eating cheese.</p>

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