Opinion: Northwood’s Dress Code is Unfair

Matthew Petizian ‘17


Matthew Petizian ’17 (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)

At Northwood School,during the class day and to meals students are required to dress in a manner conforming to a dress code. The dress code, issued by the Northwood administration, assures that students are appropriately dressed in a manner that is conducive to a functional academic environment.  Male and female students have their respective dress codes that they need to follow. However, there is much controversy about how differently the dress code is enforced for male and female students. It seems that female students have more leniency than male students when it comes to class dress, and many of the male students think this is unfair.

When it comes to the enforcement of the dress code at Northwood, it is obviously a lot stricter for boys than it is for girls. According to the Dress Code in the Northwood School handbook (page 15), shirts worn by students must be collared and tucked into the pants (or skirt for female students). This rule applies to both male and female students. Furthermore, any student, boy or girl, wearing a sweater for those cold Lake Placid winter days, must wear a collared shirt underneath. According to the handbook, the only difference between the male and female dress code for the class day, is that girls can wear skirts. However, for some inexpiable reason, the Northwood dress code has evolved from it’s original policies into a new unofficial dress code that is clearly more lenient towards girls and goes against the rules of the Student Handbook.

The dress code in effect today at Northwood still enforces the same policies for its male students (collared shirt, tucked into dress pants or khakis with a belt) but has completely changed regarding the females. With this modified, unofficial dress code, girls are not required to wear a collared shirt. In fact, they have the option  between a variety of casual tops such as long sleeve shirts, pullovers, quarter zip sweaters, sweatshirts, fleeces, flannels, etc. None of these tops need to be tucked in. The idea behind their dress code has basically become “just look proper.”

To prove the injustice and inequality of the dress code enforcement, I took it upon myself to perform a small social experiment. The other day I walked into my English class early and noticed that two girls were wearing pullovers, without collared shirts underneath, which is in violation of the school’s dress code according to the Student Handbook. I went back to my room to change into exactly the same outfit as those girls. As I walked back into my class, I was immediately told by my teacher to go change into proper dress code. I was also given discipline points for dress code misconduct. But what about the girls who were also in violation of dress code? Why weren’t they told to go change? It seems that the school’s administration focuses more on making sure the boys have their shirts tucked in, rather than the girls who are all in complete violation of the dress code. Why are the girls given more leniency and freedom when it comes to dress code? Isn’t that sexism? Isn’t that inequality?

I believe that guys and girls should be obligated to follow the same rules for dress code. It is unfair that girls have way more leniency when it comes to the dress code than the guys do.  These are double standards and I hope that this will soon change.

The Mirror wants to know what you think. Tweet, share or Instagram your photos of dress code inequity or comments using the hashtag #NorthwoodDressCode. Warning: The Mirror can not get you out of points earned for using your phone in class.


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