Students at Mount View High School have come together to express their views about the limits put on their personal and creative expression by the school’s dress code. The current dress code has been in place, unchanged, since 2004. A group of staff and students have become advocates for themselves and others by actively working for change and gathering peer opinions. Social studies teacher Katelyn Condon was the first person to initiate a committee meeting of passionate, diverse students last fall, and the group has grown dramatically since then, from 18 students in December to 31 students and 12 teachers at last count.

In order to bring the changes the student body wants to see, students circulated a schoolwide survey that received 177 responses. The survey asked free-response questions to elicit students’ honest opinions on their experiences with the dress code and the changes they want to see. It is important to note that the committee is advocating for fewer restrictions and clearer, non-gendered language in the dress code, but some survey respondents argued for even more restrictions, and those responses were equally valued.

Many students argue that the dress code is unfairly upheld only for girls. Male students may walk around with their pants falling down, or wearing tank tops with arms so stretched they show the wearer’s whole torso. However, if a female student shows her midriff or wears a strapless top, it somehow is controversial enough to require her to go home and change. One of the most common complaints was that girls were sent home or had their classes interrupted because their bra straps were showing or their shorts were too short.

Students and staff alike have shared testimonies through the anonymous survey, with many objecting to the hat rule in addition to the dress code’s restrictions and targeting language. Mount View students may not wear hats at any time during the school day, and rarely on special occasions, such as a hat day, or a school event, when given permission by the school board.

The committee has proven to be a vital outlet for many different students. Members represent each grade level and gender, and everyone gets time to share their opinions. Freshman Ilsa Petrak said she feels “very welcome” at the meetings and positive about the slow but steady progress. “I feel like we’re getting somewhere; it will definitely get going when we take it to the board,” Petrak said.

Sophomore Dakota Harriman said he feels supported as a male student. “I think that it’s super important that we have both male and female members, because it allows us to hit on points that both of us could have experienced,” he said. He added that “it’s been really informative about the experiences of some of my peers and classmates that were treated unfairly by the dress code.” Junior Izzy Healy said she loves “seeing all of these (people) from different school cliques come together with this common goal.”

It is gratifying to be part of a school where students are given, and accept, responsibility for their educational environment.

Representatives from the dress code committee recently went before Mount View’s policy committee, and while the response was not the one hoped for, the committee is currently in the process of setting goals for the near future.

Cali Warren is a senior at Mount View High School and an intern for The Republican Journal.

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