Changes to Spring Dress Code Leave Some Seniors Frustrated

At school meeting this past Monday the Dean of Students, Mr. Gino Riffle, announced changes to the dress code for the remainder of the spring. These changes are annually requested by the Headmaster’s Council, a board of senior student advisers to Headmaster Mr. Michael Maher.

The new code allows everyone to wear shorts, untucked collared shirts, quarter zips and Northwood sweatshirts to be worn without a collared shirt underneath. In addition, seniors are able to wear a sweatshirt from the college they are planning to attend. Belts are also no longer required. Mr. Riffle made it clear what was prohibited attire: cargo shorts, jean shorts, tank tops, crop tops, ripped jeans, t-shirts, sweatpants, leggings, yoga pants, open toed shoes and hats are not allowed.

At the meeting Monday, Mr. Riffle initially proclaimed jeans were permitted dress code attire, provided they were clean and not ripped, but at Wednesday’s school meeting Riffle retracted the jeans policy, explaining that he mistakenly announced the change without running it past Mr. Maher first. Maher did not approve jeans as part of dress code.

Some students were very excited about the dress code changes, such as Marina Alvarez ‘21 who said “I like the changes but I wish we could still wear jeans because they’re very versatile. As long as it is appropriate, wearing an individual’s preference of clothing is a way of expression so not to be able to [wear jeans] takes away from that. But overall I like the changes.”

While many students were excited about the changes as warmer weather arrives, some seniors felt differently. Dress code is always a hot topic around Northwood, and changing it often causes some controversy, and many seniors are upset with the new changes. In the past, spring changes to the dress code only included seniors and were part of Northwood’s “Senior Privileges,” a long-standing school tradition in which seniors get certain privileges, such as wearing shorts, and the underclassmen are granted these privileges after graduation when the seniors leave.

Seniors are also disappointed that the Headmaster’s Council was not included in the decision-making. Hannah Kessel ‘18 is a Headmaster’s Council member and said, “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of transparency in this process. Things get lost in translation, and the stratification of different class councils undoubtedly makes that worse. We [Headmaster’s Council] put in a proposal the first week of school, we even presented it to the Board of Trustees and to the faculty, and then the administration was radio silent for months. We’re glad the dress code has been updated, but we’re frustrated that we push and push and never see anything come of it.”

Other seniors, not involved with the council, had similar feelings. Kendall Dubin ‘18 shared that she felt “the dress code is too strict when it comes to certain things and shorts should be strictly a senior privilege like it always has been.”


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