By Chinaza Ezeh
The beginning of the 2019-2020 school year was brought in with a significant new change: major revisions to the Howard County Public School System dress code.
For the past ten years, the dress code remained the same. Now, the new code states: “Students are permitted to wear: Hats, hoods and headwear […] Tank tops, including spaghetti straps, halter tops, and strapless tops” (HCPSS Student Code of Conduct 2019-2020). The biggest grievances that were outlined in the former dress code were the prohibition of tank tops; halter tops; tops that are strapless, hats, and hoods (HCPSS Student Code of Conduct). Despite these clothing outlines being clearly stated in the dress code, the guidelines were broken on an almost daily basis by a number of students.
Seniors Ali Khalid and Jidechi Eluchie exercising their rights as outlined in the new dress code. Photo Credit Bear Press.
Senior Bhumi Patel, who has attended Hammond High School since her freshman year, has observed over the years that the “original dress code was not being followed at all.” She believes that the new dress code has “helped people just do what they originally did without getting in trouble […] No one really cares.” The lack of adherence to the dress code is a significant reason that Patel believes the dress code was changed in the first place.
One student who had personal issues with the former dress code is junior Jasmine Britt. She stated that before the change, the only way it impacted her was “whether or not I decided to bring a jacket to school [to cover my shoulders].” Now, that is no longer something she has to deal with, which she appreciates, due to her limited clothing options in other areas of her life. “I have so many outfits that I can’t wear because I have to go to work, and that [requires] uniform,” Britt shared, “So, school is the only place I can really express my clothing choices.”
One big question among certain students is why it took so long to finally bring about a new dress code. Junior Makayla Laurents shared her thoughts on the subject, stating that one of the reasons she believed it took so long for the dress code to be updated because of men. “My dad gave me this speech, like, if you wear [a certain] outfit then you’re going to be [harassed].” She believes if this was not a concern, the dress code would have looked different a long time ago.
When asked if the new dress code would impact the way she dressed for school, Patel responded that “her [personal] dress code originally fitted the old dress code.” However, other students do not feel the same way. A prime example is senior Ali Khalid, who has also attended Hammond High School for all four years of his high school experience. “I like to wear hats and caps, but because of the dress code I was often told to take them off. Now, with the new dress code, I’m allowed to wear these things. So honestly, I’m happy with it.” It is safe to say that the rest of the Hammond student community is just as happy with the change as well.