Dress code controversy arises again

Olivia Morfit, Staff Writer

The dress code, a subject that has been rehashed many a time at Urban, is once again a common topic of conversation. With warm back-to-school weather comes short cutoff shirts and bare bellies, are inevitably accompanied by disciplinary emails from school administrators. Two main issues emerge in these discussions: the presence of a dress code of any kind at Urban, and the enforcement of the one we have.

The code itself seems to be more of an issue for female students than male. “I think the dress code infringes on my right to decide what I put on my body,” said Madeleine Matz (’17). “A dress code puts the responsibility of being sexualized onto the victim of sexualization rather than those who are sexualizing the victim’s body,” she added.

The reasons for this may lie in popular fashions and style. “I think it’s hard for women to find stylish clothes that cover skin. I don’t think women wearing revealing clothes means they’re especially provocative, it’s just following fashion or trends,” said Julian Larach (’15).

As a school that prides itself on freedom of expression and individuality, Urban’s core values include honoring uniqueness and diversity, and as the school website says, “(honoring) the uniqueness of each individual and (embracing) diverse backgrounds, values and points of view.” Bruno-BaSaing said “we embrace how our artistic expressions can make others uncomfortable because we realize we need an accepting learning environment, but as soon as our artistic expression involves bare skin or clothing that can be sexualized, there are regulations around it.” “People can have blue hair, piercings … those things aren’t exactly professional, and could make some people uncomfortable, but it’s still allowed,” she said.

Is Urban’s dress code hypocritical, as one of the school’s integral values involves mutual respect and room for discourse around discomfort?

The enforcement of the dress code causes problems for many, even people who do not see anything wrong with the dress code itself. “One of the biggest problems with the dress code is that there’s a certain body type and reputation or personality that goes with getting dress coded,” said Larach. “Girls who are more developed, more outgoing … they’re the ones who get noticed in that way,” he continued.

“I’ve never been dress coded,” said Bruno-Basaing, “but I’ve definitely broken the code. It’s not fair to enforce the code more on a certain set of people … it’s inconsistent.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with a dress code … it’s five days a week for four years of your life. I just think there should be more slack, and it should be more fairly enforced,” concluded Julian.

“Every human being has a right to feel comfortable in their own body and that includes being able to wear whatever one wants, as long as it isn’t directly harmful to someone else,” said Matz.

Whether completely against or conditionally in favor of a dress code, this controversy is outlines whether or not Urban really takes self-expression and individuality as seriously as one would hope.