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A change in clothes: Niles North dress code faces reform


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Whether it’s a security guard telling you to put down your hoodie or you being sent to the dean’s office, Niles North’s dress code and its enforcements have been subject to scrutiny and adverse reactions. This year, our school’s student government is creating a proposal to address the code’s issues.

Several constraints within the school dress code, including prohibitions on the wearing of hats and hoodies, have kindled some contention over the past school year, especially considering some restrictions have been speculated to give specific gender/body type-based groups the short end of the stick.

“I don’t like the dress code rule because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing hoodies,” Dalton Cuellar, junior, said.

More specifically, the code’s opposition to “clothes that distract students or teachers from the conduct of educational activities”, as per Administrative Procedure 7:160-AP, is seen as oriented more towards women. A common complaint about the code is women often being persecuted for distracting male classmates with their clothing choices, although penalizations would not be as severe if the genders were flipped. One such perspective was captured in a past North Star article.

The need for change was initially sparked by Evanston Township High School, who updated their dress code back in August around the start of the school year following a small controversy concerning comments made by the principal that some perceived as body-shaming. Their new code was notably lenient, allowing hats, hoodies, tank tops, spaghetti straps, leggings, yoga pants, and more.

It focused mostly on body positivity and inclusiveness, explicitly stating that it was wholeheartedly against “marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type/size.”

NN’s Student Government is eagerly running on the heels of this bold move, using it as a springboard of inspiration for changing their own dress code.

“The current dress code is inequitable and favors certain genders, races, and body types over others,” Miriam Berkson, senior and vice president of SG, said. “The topic of the dress code has recently been brought to [SG] because ETHS has changed their policy in the past year. We want to form a policy similar to [that of ETHS], where the dress code is more lenient and more focused on not shaming others and letting others dress the way they want to dress.”

The SG is currently editing their proposed policy, which will then be delivered to the Educational Policy Advisory Committee (EPAC) before being sent to the district’s Board of Education. The group has held several morning meetings in the new Student Commons to solidify the direction they want to go in.

“I hope [the new code] will destroy the culture of shaming people for how they choose to dress, along with creating an equitable environment,” Berkson said.

With the incoming dress code reform compounded by the establishment of the Principal’s Advisory Committee, this school year is undoubtedly shaping up to be a year of change for the better. Proactivity and fervor are in the air, and the student body’s enthusiasm in tackling fundamental flaws are bound to have effects reverberating throughout the school walls. Addressing the dress code is another stepping stone towards creating an optimal environment for all students to prosper in the fullest of their individualities.

Featured image by Ben Jeffrey

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A change in clothes: Niles North dress code faces reform