Montclair High school students against the dress code pushed back Monday night, speaking out first at the Montclair BOE meeting and then again on CBS News at 11 p.m., where they were interviewed by Tracee Carrasco.
Juniors Lily Crandall and Claudia Silver spoke first the BOE meeting, calling for a change to subjective guidelines that “only work to sexualize and shame students.”
“Faculty tend to pay more attention to the length of shorts more than anything else,” said Crandall. “A common consequence for breaking the dress code is to get a change of clothes, which can take up to an hour away from class time.”
“We understand and appreciate how much Mr. Earle has tried to do when it comes to changing the dress code,” said Silver. “But there is still much left to accomplish.”
Silver announced the progress they have made on the issue, stating that MHS Principal Earle has already agreed to remove the words “distracting”, “excessive”, and “revealing” from the online version of the handbook (which lists the dress code) immediately and the print version for next year.
Crandall called for a review of the outdated dress code to something more objective, citing that the fingertip length for shorts unfairly targets those with arms are proportionately longer than others and that when temperatures climb to over 90 degrees inside schools without air conditioning it is unfair to ban tank tops.
Noah Slon, an MHS sophomore, cited the “ridiculous argument” that girls’ attire distracts boys from class work. “It implies that a girl’s dress is more important than her education and that a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s education,” said Slon, adding that the students are not advocating for “clothing chaos or accessory anarchy,” but rather for an institution that educates children, regardless of gender, “no matter how long their shorts, no matter how long their finger tips.”
Following the student’s remarks, Superintendent Ronald Bolandi thanked the students and stated that the next step would be for Principal Earle to make recommendations for the dress code to the Board. Bolandi also said he would be meeting with students at the high school.
Later, Montclair High school students shared with CBS New York how the dress code makes them feel.
“This dress code basically tells us that our bodies are like these sexual objects that are here to distract the staff and the males,” MHS student Mackenzie Thomas told CBS.
“The dress code is completely distracting,” said MHS student Christine Templeton. “What we want to focus on is our education.”