Monday, September 21, 2015

MPH Dress Code, Enforcement

Now that everyone is more familiar with the goals, the spirit and the details of the Dress Code (see previous post on the subject), questions remain about how it is interpreted, and how it is enforced.

To avoid subjective calls, the Dress Code is clear and for the most part does not leave much room for interpretation. Yet, as fashion evolves faster than language, clothes exist that do not easily fit in any category. As long as those clothes are in the spirit of the Dress Code: neat, clean and appropriate, students can wear them on campus. In doubt as to whether an article of clothing is in Dress Code or not, students are welcome to ask me before wearing it.
Some aspects of the Dress Code seem rigid and devoid of nuanced quantifiers: "Clothes must cover shoulders, thighs, stomach and chest" reads the first line, and will need some level of interpretation to reconcile with the reality of a constantly evolving fashion. For this first line, I take my cues from the first family of the United States: If Malia and Sasha can wear it at the White House in an official picture, it's OK to wear at school.

Obama family, Easter 2015

The Dress Code is mostly enforced with discrete conversations with students, and communications with their parents, advisors and teachers. It is important to us that our students never feel publicly shamed about their appearance. When a student is persistently out of Dress Code (more than twice), disciplinary action ensues. It usually takes the form of a temporary loss of Free Block privileges for juniors and seniors, and extra Lunch Duty for sophomores and freshmen.