Explaining the Shift in Skirt Implementation
While the dress code remained consistent from last year, a major change occurred regarding the implementation of the dress code — specifically regarding skirts. The dress code states that girls must wear a skirt that covers at least the middle of the knee while standing and prohibits all skirts that are tight fitting, have a slit above the knee, have rips, or are see-through. Previously, all female teachers would look out for skirt infractions and report them on an accountability WhatsApp chat. Then, an administrator would send an email from an accountability email account informing the girl that she broke the dress code. She would then need to switch out her skirt into a school-approved one. This implementation led to many girls feeling uncomfortable as they felt that their skirts were heavily monitored. However, this year, with the help of Dr. Sim Pearl and Dr. Pam Mason, the implementation of the skirt dress code shifted to attempt to make the process “both easier to implement and easier for students to follow,” as Dr. Mason explained.
The change in enforcement is simple. Only Dr. Mason will deal with infractions and only Dr. Mason will speak to a girl if her skirt does not meet the dress code requirements. In addition, she will only take note of egregious infractions — not skirts that fall in the “murky zone,” as Dr. Pearl explained to the female students in the first week of school. Dr. Mason explained that she thinks “students are feeling more comfortable” with this new design. Moreover, she said, “The greatest thing is I want to empower students to be comfortable and in charge of themselves,” which she believed was “working nicely.” While Dr. Mason has had to interact with students, she emphasized that she thinks they were at ease with the process and “outcome.”
Many girls agree with Dr. Mason, feeling that the new skirt policy lightens the stress of constantly worrying about their skirt lengths. Since the new policy ensures that all communication comes from Dr. Mason, many girls feel like teachers are no longer constantly looking out for skirt infractions. Junior Ayla Cohen explained, “I think that the new skirt policy has given girls a chance to focus on the more important aspects of school, rather than covering a few inches of their knees.” Ayla continued, adding that she thinks the refocusing “has led to an overall healthier mindset in regard to girls’ images.”
Aside from Dr. Mason’s presence, Dr. Pearl also created a policy to ensure “communal responsibility.” Girls should “hold each other accountable,” as he said, to ensure that they correctly follow the dress code. Dr. Pearl explained this policy, saying, “People are not trying to find ways to break the rules.” Rather, he believes in the premise of “mutual trust” and assuming the best in people. However, in the event of recurring egregious cases, the girls responsible will be asked to wear midi skirts to ensure that their skirt length follows the dress code.
Sophomore Natalie Burukhov appreciated the new policy, saying “I’m glad that this policy [keeps] teachers from making girls uncomfortable by constantly looking at their knees.” However, she noted that “it’s also not as easy to take responsibility and tell your friend that their skirt is too short.”
Dr. Mason said that the new policy came as an “adjustment” for teachers as well. She explained that the teachers, who previously enforced dress code themselves, learned to change their own mindsets. Dr. Mason clarified that because the teachers were used to implementing the dress code, some may have had “the tendency to keep on doing that,” yet the more the teachers “understand that there is a new process,” the less this was an issue.
Finally, Dr. Mason emphasized the importance of “empowering students to make their own good decisions.” She and Dr. Pearl both “really appreciate” that philosophy. “You have independence when you graduate from high school,” Dr. Mason explained, “So empowering you to make good thoughtful decisions is our goal.” With this policy, the weight of accountability shifts onto the girls. This serves to make the girls more self-aware of their adherence to the dress code, rather than self-conscious. The new implementation significantly changed the mindset of the girls regarding the dress code for the better.