Dress code causes students to feel boxed in

Alexis Soriano

Waipahu High School students often mention that the dress code has unnecessary restrictions. Some rules are important, but others don’t sit well with the student body or allow us to express ourselves.

One fair rule that should be upheld is “no drug, sexual, gang print or wording, gang style clothing, violent message/design, or contraband paraphernalia, shall be worn.” Most students also agree that the buttocks, bust, and undergarments should remain unseen.

However, students commonly note that women are more penalized within the dress code.

The dress code states that “spaghetti straps, tube tops, halter tops or strapless tops are not allowed unless a non-see-through blouse or jacket is worn over it.”

Shylyn Saloricman (’24) says, “I mainly dislike how women can’t wear spaghetti straps unless it’s covered. In Hawaii specifically, it’s extremely hot and we’re sweating so much. Spaghetti straps help with us not being as hot.”

WHS students are aware of Hawaii’s humid weather, so we often try to accommodate these conditions. The purpose of wearing these clothes is to be more comfortable and not have to worry about sweating throughout the school day. Wearing a jacket over them defeats the whole purpose.

“Although our classrooms are now air-conditioned, I still dress for the weather, and living in such a hot climate, it is expected to wear less clothing. Having to cover up through jackets makes the school days almost unbearable due to the heat,” Tia Capron (’23) says.

It may be cold during air-conditioned classes, but it can still be very hot when students are at recess or lunch, transitioning between classes, or participating in PE or other outside activities. We just want to breathe for that moment in time. The weather is sometimes unpredictable and we can’t control our body temperatures. We just need to cool down and take a break.

Students are not distracted by what classmates are wearing. Whether others wear tube tops, crop tops, ripped jeans, or shorts, we carry on with our day and continue to come to school for the purpose of learning.

Paige Sausal (’22) created an Instagram account dedicated to modifying and bringing up the issues about our school’s dress code, @modifywhsdresscode.

She created this account in May for her Participation in Democracy class as a final assessment when she was a junior. Sausal chose this topic because she is very passionate and strongly believes that there needs to be a change in the dress code. On @modifywhsdresscode, students can click on the link in the account’s bio to share their stories, thoughts, and experiences. Sausal posts these submissions as well as the overall issues with the dress code and provides solutions. She also includes an essay in the same link about the dress code.

“Update The Waipahu High School Dress Code Policy” is a petition that was created three months ago on change.org by Leiandra Fagaragan. As of September 30, 2021, 797 people have signed this petition.

The petition says, “Our school motto is ‘my voice, my choice, my voice, my future,’ yet ‘my future’ is in jeopardy if the school levies punishments for what is considers ‘inappropriate wear.’ Updating the school’s dress code policy to be gender-equal would promote body positivity, self-expression, and foster a comfortable environment for students.”

Sausal says, “I just hope in the future our school will have a change of heart about dress code and realize how it affects certain students. They should change it in a way that will make everyone happy and comfortable at school without overthinking if the clothes they’re wearing are going to get them dress coded. Other schools have even made the dress code flexible, open-minded, and enforce it in a better way. It’s worked for them, so why won’t it work for us?”