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If the Question is Uniformity, is a Uniform the Answer?

The debate over the girls’ dress code consumes too much of our time. As APs pile up and students and faculty alike become increasingly aggravated with the ambiguous, hard-to-follow dress code, the need for a solution becomes more and more pressing.

So how do we find a resolution suitable to all parties involved? Well, one popular yet controversial option is a uniform. Important arguments have been raised for and against in conversations across campus.

One of the most obvious benefits of a uniform would be to level the “playing field”; if we had a uniform, everyone would dress in the exact same clothing, no matter a student’s socio-economic standing.

A uniform would also make getting ready in the morning much easier. A uniform could cut some of the daily time required to create a fashionable, dress-code-appropriate outfit.

Head of School Margarita Curtis explained, “I do not want everyone here to look the same everyday because I do not believe Deerfield is about conformity but rather freedom and individuality.

“However, I do feel that making the girls’ dress code more comparable to the boys’ could be very helpful, and even fun.  Getting the girls to wear blazers of any fabric, shape, or color, with pants or skirts of reasonable length, would be a step in the right direction.”

Even so, a uniform may not solve the appropriateness issue.

“We had a uniform with plaid skirts and oxfords at my old school and everyone would just roll or hem their skirts, and unbutton their shirts low,” said Hope Walker ’11. “There are always ways to cheat the system, so a uniform wouldn’t even solve the problem, it would just take away our dressing freedom.”

A uniform might also dissuade prospective students.

“Deerfield already has a really strict dress code compared to a lot of other boarding schools, and I honestly don’t think I would have come if the school had a uniform,” Caitlin Cook ’12 commented.

Perhaps a compromise between a uniform and our current dress code would be the most effective solution. “We had a uniform at my old school in Princeton, New Jersey, but it wasn’t just one outfit that everyone had to wear everyday, but rather an array of different articles of clothing that we could combine to create different outfits,” Yuna Ko ’12 said.

Dr. Curtis agreed, “I think companies like L.L. Bean and J. Crew would love to help us come up with an affordable, attractive array of blazers, skirts, and pants.   We have also a group of talented artists here who could collaborate with a company to design a selection of attractive yet appropriate clothes that would satisfy everyone.”

Five parents, three faculty members, two seniors, and one freshman comprise a voluntary committee assembled last spring and this fall with the purpose of discussing the problems with the current dress code and potential solutions in order to bring suggestions to a final meeting at the beginning of this winter term. So far, the group has decided that what the school needs to accomplish is a uniformity in the boys’ and girls’ dress codes, because the essence of Deerfield will not permit a true uniform.

The real question is: Would a uniform put the debate to rest or only shift its focus?

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