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Dress Code Distress

As a result of students’ collective action through a petition, and emails from both parents and students to the Deans’ Office, controversial changes to the dress code were retracted on Monday, August 22.

In the days before, an email went out from Dean of Students Toby Emerson notifying students about the new dress code, and Facebook exploded with outraged statuses and wallposts.

“Since there isn’t much of a difference now, I’m bringing a load of my old uniforms back with me. Kilts for everyone!” Georgina Hutchins ’12 wrote.

“The problem isn’t girls falling out of their shirts, it’s skirt length. It always has been the problem and the administration is completely ignoring it,” commented Zatio Kone ’12.

“Sue me for liking my v-neck dresses!” half-joked Betsy Alexandre ’13.

Within two days, the first draft of a petition began making the rounds of first the senior class and then the younger students.

The main objections outlined by this petition were its late timing, which left little room for new wardrobe shopping, the financial issue of paying for many new staple items, unnecessary strictness in the new rules, and an overriding feeling of exclusion and secrecy that surrounded the committee and its decision.

“I don’t find the new code itself that bad,” explained Eliza Mott ’12.  “But I am impassioned by the fact that there seem to have been a covert committee making these decisions, with no regard to cooperation or negotiation, which was mentioned last year.”

The petition then proposed a plan of action that involved a transition period when the old dress code would stay in effect while a new, more public committee with a larger portion of student representatives determined a compromise by a reasonable deadline.

In an email to the school, Dean of Students Amie Creagh explained that a group of students, faculty, parents, and alumni was formed a year ago in order to “address concerns with our dress code.”

The group met with trustees and presented to the faculty twice, and, “after a careful revision process…presented the Deans’ Office with a final product, the updated dress code.”

Ms. Creagh closed her email with a warning for students: “This morning, the Senior Staff met with Dr. Curtis and revisited this topic.  An agreement was reached to return to the “old” dress code.  This likely comes as quite a relief to many of you.  I hasten to add, however, that, should students fail to adhere strictly to those guidelines, we will enact the revisions of earlier this month.  This matter now lies in your hands.”

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