By Emma Culp, staff writer —
Whether it’s a blue and gold cluster of students or a group that resembles the cast of “the Breakfast Club,” UTC’s campus has unbeatable style that is impossible not to notice.
Students undoubtedly take advantage of their freedom when it comes to the dress code here on campus as most, in high school, were forced to follow strict policies while they attended class. Whether students came from a private or public school, almost all will say that they had to follow some sort of dress code policy ranging from complete uniforms to specific pieces that were not permitted.
As society becomes more aware and open about the double standards and bias that exist when enacting dress code policy, both male and female students are more prone to ignore dress code policy and dress the way they prefer.
According to a National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 19 percent of middle and high schools students across the country said they were not allowed to wear clothes said to be inappropriate based on their gender.
Most college students will, without hesitation, say that they do not miss high school and feel much happier in a college environment with more freedom and acceptance in all categories, more specifically the dress code policy. In turn, this enables students to perform better not only academically, but socially.
Student Ashley Birnbaum, a sophomore from Nashville, felt she experienced harsh and unnecessary discipline from teachers throughout high school, regarding dress code policy, that negatively affected her performance. She was once disciplined, in front of her whole class, after she came to school in leggings with a shirt that was not fully covering her bottom.
“After I walked away, I heard [the teacher] say, ‘now that’s just disgusting’ and it hurt me because she was labeling me as a person from what I was wearing,” said Birnbaum.
Although Birnbaum was top in her class, carrying a 100 throughout the semester, she was treated poorly solely because of what she chose to wear. This not only hindered her academically, but also changed her attitude about attending class.
She constantly struggled, when shopping for clothes, to find pieces that fit the strict guidelines of the dress code. This resulted in having to buy uncomfortable and unflattering clothes that she had to wear over eight hours of the day.
“I always felt uncomfortable,” said Birnbaum. “I never felt like I could truly show off my own style.”
As the younger generation pours into school, fashion is bound to change and possibly become harder to understand for some “old school” teachers, causing stricter discipline when it comes to how students dress.
Teachers may fail to see the detrimental impact it has on students when they are focused more heavily on what they are wearing, rather than how they are performing in class.
Birnbaum today finds herself more confident than ever as her style has no bounds walking through campus.
“I’m so much more confident in my body now that I can wear clothes that aren’t judged by anyone,” said Birnbaum.
Birnbaum can’t help but notice the positive effects of allowing students to dress as they please each day when she walks through campus. She hopes that elementary, middle and high school administrations will reconsider their strict policies and be more cautious when it comes to disciplining students.
“Creativity flows in these hallways and it’s so nice,” said Birnbaum. “I hope that teachers notice the difference in students attitudes and abilities.”