Recently a large group of Wilson students have come together to combat the school’s dress code even though many administrators doubt its enforcement.
“I don’t think the dress code is being enforced,” Linda Wanner, a 12th grade assistant principal, said. “I’m not saying we’re not trying to enforce it, but it’s hard.”
The official Wilson dress code, laid out on Wilson’s website, has been around for as long as most students can remember. It states that they need to dress in a way that is “conducive to an educational setting,” which has come to mean no shorts above mid-thigh, no tank-tops, no muscle tees, and no clothing with drug paraphernalia, among other things. “It seems pretty obvious that there has to be a certain set standard for dress code. Our society has some social norms that just have to be enforced. I didn’t make them up, you didn’t make them up. It’s just the way it is,” Principal Kimberly Martin said.
However while Martin does not believe that the dress code is an important issue, a large group of Wilson students have come together to find a way to put an end to the policy. These students were brought together by junior Anna Bucknum who has been ‘dress-coded’ multiple times by the Wilson administration, and believes the whole system is sexist. This group of almost 200 Wilson students communicate mainly through a large group chat, but have also met one day at lunch. They plan to create a book about their personal experiences with the dress code, along with photos of the outfits they were wearing at the time.
Bucknum believes that the administration did not enforce the dress code at the beginning of the year, and began administering it one day in April without any warning. “It was as if they woke up and were just like, ‘let’s start enforcing a rule we didn’t enforce at the beginning of this year.’ It was just way too bizarre, and it really showed how random and unfairly the dress code is enforced, and I decided it was time for something to change,” Bucknum said.
Freshman Amalia McKennie was sent home on April 26 for wearing a tank top and shorts. It was 86 degrees outside. “I was sent over to Dean Ricks as I was walking into school. She told me to call my dad so he could bring me a change of clothes,” McKennie said. However, after her dad didn’t pick up his phone several times, McKennie said Nadira Ricks, the 9th grade Dean of Students, told her she had to go home and change her clothes. She ended up missing all of first period and half of third.
“At school we should be able to self-express. It’s also completely sexist,” McKennie said. “The point is for us to not be distracting to boys, but why is that our responsibility? It is valuing their education over ours because they’re making me miss my class, just so boys aren’t distracted.”
Wanner, however, has a different opinion. “Girls think that calling attention to them when they’re so exposed in school is sexism, but I think the reverse is true. They have to think about what they’re saying when they’re wearing something that looks like a bra. Is it the school that has it mixed up or is it them?”
Both Martin and Wanner said they were open to speak with students about revisions to the dress code. •
PHOTO BY MAYA EDWARDS