Dress code policy not universal

Morgan Moody, Reporter

During the 2021-2022 school year, the administration and student senate decided to make a formal change to the controversial dress code after an uptick of anger and concern from students and parents. 

U-High’s original dress code contained sexist policies that made female students feel targeted. Students were getting stopped in the hall and called out in class to cover up when midriff, shoulders, or cleavage was showing. This did not sit well with students so they decided to take action. 

“We had a few emails from parents and students saying ‘hey, there are some things about the dress code that just aren’t working for us,’” principal Andrea Markert said. “I told them we can meet and discuss the issue, but it kind of just got away from us. Instead, we held a meeting with the Student Senate.” 

After a meeting with Senate, Markert and assistant principal Michael Shanley set out to formally revise the dress code in the student handbook. 

said. “The students came to the table about what they thought and provided a lot of feedback.”

In early April 2022, the student handbook committee held a meeting to discuss revisions to the dress code. The revisions were finalized over the summer.

“July 18th was the official date of the revision,” Shanley said. “Markert and I are always open to revision, so we didn’t really need that extra push from parents and students. Everyone realized it was super outdated and needed a change.” 

It is important to know that the new dress code does not apply to athletic classes and that, per the policy, departments can establish additional criteria for safety purposes. In an email, P.E. teacher Maria Pessman gave some additional insight into the separation of athletic and school-wide dress codes. 

“Dress code for the school, including PE, is a set policy. These policies help create productive and secure learning environments,” Pessman wrote in her email. “PE dress code is created to establish safety standards for the physical environment and mental state of students and faculty.”

School policies, including the dress code, ensure safety and smoothness for the setting students and faculty reside in. 

“Students and teachers deserve to feel physically and psychologically secure in their environment,” Pessman wrote. “These policies help establish rules and procedures for quality learning and without them, schools would lack the structure and function necessary to provide the educational needs of students.”

While the difference in dress codes is in adherence with school policy, junior Zoe Przybylski does not feel the discussion should end. 

“I fully understand that we don’t want anyone to get hurt or feel unsafe in any way,” Przybylski said. “Yet it’s hard to know that even though the school’s dress code has changed that I can’t wear something similar in P.E. I sometimes wonder if certain body types are targeted in these situations, which is another big issue overall that should be discussed.” 

For now, the discussion seems to have come to a close.  Faculty and administration wanted students to feel comfortable in their clothes and body. Without the most recent revision, students were feeling targeted and insecure about the clothes they were wearing.

“As a female, when I had women come up to me and express how they felt as if the dress code was skewed towards women, I knew there needed to be a change,” Markert said. “I want U-High to be a place where students feel comfortable expressing themselves and in order for that to happen, this revision needed to be completed.”

P.E. Teachers Maria Pessman and Hayley Sefton declined to be interviewed for this story. 

U-High handbook code

Fails to cover the student’s genitals, buttocks, nipple, or breast. 

*Please Note: Specific courses may have different guidelines for appropriate dress in order to maintain student safety based on the activity or learning experiences inherent in that curriculum (e.g., protective clothing for laboratories, clothing appropriate for dance, athletic attire, etc.). If you have questions about these, please ask your classroom teacher


Pe Code

Dress every day for class: proper dress is a change of clothes from your daily attire. 

  1. Appropriate: t-shirt with sleeves, sleeveless shirts with a hem on the edge, shorts of the appropriate length for physical activity, sock, tennis shoes

  2. Inappropriate: tank tops, crop tops, spaghetti straps, sports bras, cut-offs, inappropriate advertising, short shorts, spandex shorts, slides, crocks, slippers