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Is cropped over the top?

While reading the dance contract for the homecoming dance, did you find yourself thinking, “What is the dress code, and how am I supposed to follow it if I didn’t even know it existed?” Yeah, me too.

I went to the Arcata High School website to try and find it. I looked under each of the seven heads and on every page, and I could not find the dress code. It is possible to find a dress code on the district website. On the Northern Humboldt Union High School District (NHUHSD) webpage, you must hover your mouse over the section at the top titled “Governance” and click on the Policies tab. You will find a “Dress and Grooming” board policy after scrolling down to number 5132. There are two different documents: AR and BP. (Respectively, these stand for administrative regulation and board policy, though both are board policies.) 

NHUHSD board policies state, “The Board of Trustees believes that appropriate dress and grooming contribute to a productive learning environment. The Board expects students to give proper attention to personal cleanliness and to wear clothes that are suitable for the school activities in which they participate. Students’ clothing must not present a health or safety hazard or a distraction which would interfere with the educational process.”

They continue, “Students and parents/guardians shall be informed about dress and grooming standards at the beginning of the school year and whenever these standards are revised.” 

According to the school’s secretary, there was no dress code included in the informational packet sent out when school started this year as in prior years.

What is the actual dress code?

The guidelines include: “1. Shoes must be worn at all times, 2. Clothing, jewelry and personal items (backpacks, fanny packs, gym bags, water bottles etc.) shall be free of writing, pictures or any other insignia which are crude, vulgar, profane or sexually suggestive, which bear drug, alcohol or tobacco company advertising, promotions and likenesses, or which advocate racial, ethnic or religious prejudice, 3. Hats, caps and other head coverings shall not be worn indoors, and 4. Clothes shall be sufficient to conceal undergarments at all times. See-through or fishnet fabrics, halter tops, off-the-shoulder or low-cut tops, bare midriffs and skirts or shorts shorter than mid-thigh are prohibited.” 

It has a synopsis of gang-related apparel as well. They say individual schools can define apparel and limit as needed, but only if it could “reasonably could be determined to threaten the health and safety of the school environment if it were worn or displayed on a school campus. (Education Code 32282)” They also include that, “Because gang-related symbols are constantly changing, definitions of gang-related apparel shall be reviewed at least once each semester and updated whenever related information is received.” 

I don’t know about others, but I have not been informed about the dress code this year or in prior years. This isn’t to say that this information is being guarded, per se, just that it is difficult to find unless you know the exact steps and the location. 

Students tend to like the way the dress code is not discussed and is rarely enforced. 

“[At] my old school, there was a really strict dress code. So, I would definitely have to dress different there than I feel like I dress now,” sophomore Reyna May said. “I’m able to express myself more here because there’s less of a strict dress code.”

Senior Milani Hunnicutt does not think a dress code should be enforced at all.  

“I would probably say, ‘Okay, dress code me. I’ll go home if you really want me to not be here in this outfit,” she said.

Hunnicutt doesn’t agree with the enforcement of a dress code, but if it were to happen, she would dress with “more layers and limit [herself] to some of [her] crop tops because some of them are a bit short.” 

“But also, girls should be able to show their stomachs because guys can walk around basically shirtless in public,” Hunnicutt said. “By putting a dress code strictly on the females, morally it’s stigmatizing the fact that females are being put [under pressure and] that’s not fair.”

Principal Ron Perry stated that his main goal is to keep everyone at the school feeling safe and welcomed. 

“At times it is [enforced],” he said, regarding the district’s dress code, “especially when the issue is safety.” There are always safety concerns, Perry reminded us, “and when something is unsafe, or is overtly offensive, or is overtly disruptive in terms of making somebody feel small, or less than, or is hateful, there have been moments and there have been times where we’ve had to ask students to make changes.” 

Anwen Lockwood, a sophomore at AHS, wondered what safety concerns could warrant a request for students to change their clothes during the school day. 

“I’m guessing like just don’t wear a bathing suit to school, pretty much,” she said. Lockwood continued, “I definitely think that it’s important to make sure that no one’s wearing anything offensive or anything that could be hurtful to other people,” she said. 

Savannah Roth, a sophomore at AHS, thinks that the dress code is somewhat veiled or unrevealed.

“They should probably make it easier to find,” she said. “You never know if what you’re gonna wear is not appropriate and that’s not fair.”

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About the Contributor
Ilana Maclay
Ilana Maclay, Feature Section Editor
Ilana Maclay is ready to start a new year at the Pepperbox. She has written mostly feature and news articles but is ready to broaden her writing beyond what she has done in the past. Last year, she worked at The Pepperbox as a reporter, writer, and news editor. Ilana hopes to bring new ideas to the table this year and help others with whatever they might need guidance in.
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