NDP’s dress code should be more lenient

Danny Doherty, Writer

The strict dress code at Notre Dame Preparatory is very unpopular with the students that attend the school, and students believe that a more lenient dress code would help promote creativity and positivity. 

Part of preparing students for college is teaching responsibility. With a new dress code, students would have the opportunity to make the right decision and wear an appropriate outfit. Not only would this be an opportunity for student growth, it allows students to be respectful, reverent, and responsible in their own way. In my opinion, the three R’s do not mean much if they are forced upon a person; true character shows when a person displays reverence, respect, and responsibility without being told to.

To be clear, I am not proposing to abolish the NDP uniform. But I do believe that a less strict dress code would go a long way in preparing students for college, while also allowing them to grow in the “Three R’s.”

When NDP students walked into school for the first time on August 8, students were complaining about the new dress code that was implemented for the school year. Brianna Amireh said that the new dress code was “excessive and extreme,” and other seniors agree. 

Changes to the dress code included knee-length skirts for the girls or the option of wearing shorts. In previous years, skirts could be no shorter than three inches above the knee. The uniform for the men has basically remained the same; the only difference is that they are no longer required to wear Dennis (brand name) on non-mass days. 

“I understand some of the rules, but I also feel that some of the rules are unnecessary,” said Rylee Kilgore, freshman at NDP. Kilgore was referring to the rule about the skirts having to touch the knee.

It is generally accepted that the dress code is much more strict for the female students on campus than the men. The male students have a relaxed dress code compared to the female students. But this year, changes were made to allow girls to wear shorts.

The current dress code is not unbearable; calling it so would be an exaggeration. But in a world where people tend to exaggerate, the negative opinions of the dress code will inevitably find its way to future high school students. If the student is debating between attending NDP or another school, the strict dress code could play a factor, which could repel students from NDP.

Some schools have implemented a lenient dress code, where students have much more choice when it comes to what they want to wear. At schools like these, the Dean could still give detentions if he or she felt that the student’s uniform was not up to standard.

An example of this environment is Brophy College Preparatory. On non-mass days, the students can dress in any collared shirt and khaki shorts. This promotes creativity for the students and gives the students a sense of freedom. A student can express themselves by what they wear, while it is still an appropriate uniform, and does not inhibit others from learning.

A counterpoint to this would be that the NDP dress code cannot be compared to Brophy’s because NDP has female students. While this is a valid argument, changes can still be made that encourage modesty and a better learning environment for all students. A student’s high school years are where he or she truly starts to deviate from conformity, and express themselves to the world; a more lenient dress code could encourage this, which would make NDP a better place for academic, personal, and spiritual growth.

According to Stephanie Northen, “School uniforms do not improve results,” which show that wearing a certain uniform or having strict dress codes do not improve academic performance. In a study done by David L. Brunsma of the The Journal of Educational Research, he found that “uniforms have no effect on behavior, attendance, or substance use, but they do have a negative effect on academic performance.” 

This was due to students missing class, not being focused, and worrying about dress code. The study showed that students missed class because they were not in dress code, and did not want to get in trouble.

There have also been studies that show benefits for not having uniforms. According to Kathleen Kiley Wade at Education and Urban Society, “students from schools without uniforms reported higher self-perception scores than students from schools with uniform policies.” This goes to show the negative impact uniforms can have on the students.

By making the dress codes less strict, it would create a positive feeling about uniforms, in comparison to what it is currently. This could be an opportunity to show that NDP truly is the place where anybody can fit in and be themselves. A less strict dress code promotes individuality, which is integral to a students self image and mental health. 

NDP students in current dress code. Courtesy of NDP 2019-2020 Student Handbook.

I believe that if the students truly believe in the issue, and show maturity, that a new dress code would be beneficial to the school. But this could only work if students remained reverent, respectful, and responsible. NDP could implement a system based on academic performance, behavior, and grade level. It would be a privilege to have a new dress code, which could be taken away if not followed properly.

Ultimately, the burden falls on the students to prove that they can follow dress code in the first place. If the students show that they are incapable of following dress code as it stands right now, Dean White and Dean Dragonetti would have no reason to make it more lenient. No matter what the dress code is now, or what it will be in the future, students must always oblige by the student handbook, and failure to do so will result in punishment.