Skirts should stay

Sammi Fay, Contributor

While driven, academic, and conscientious are attributes describing many Cathedral Catholic High School female students, submissive is not one of them.

On May 17, CCHS Principal Dr. Kevin Calkins notified parents and teachers about a drastic change to the 2019-2020 dress code, a change referred to as the skirt ban. The new policy contradicts the restorative discipline policy, increases uniform expenses, and excludes parent and student input on the matter.

During the past two weeks, the women of CCHS have found their voice, but when do their voices become heard? Dozens of students, parents, and alumni have protested, written letters, and spoken out against the policy, but administration has not engaged in the necessary discussions with students.

While it is clear the complaints of male faculty members have been heard and acted upon, skirt advocates have been afforded far less input regarding the matter.

What has led so many community stakeholders to question the new policy is the contradicting nature surrounding the ban.

The 2018-2019 school year marked CCHS’s shift toward restorative discipline—a whole-school, relational approach to building a harmonious school climate and dependence on healthy dialogue to promote good behavior. As a result, CCHS showed a considerable decline in the “thousands of hours of detention” reigning true in years prior.

The recent lack of punishment only has contributed to the abruptness of the new policy.

Forcing change without any means of student body discussion beforehand insinuates a lack of democracy and community. If administration had voiced its concerns to the parents and faculty prior to implementing a polarizing new policy, the situation could have been avoided entirely.

At any private institution, input is valuable. By disregarding the concerns of the students and families, CCHS simultaneously is severing ties with its primary beneficiaries.

In lieu of the ban, alumni have reflected upon the former superior policy, when female students were allowed up to three dress code violations until their skirt privileges were taken away. This idea is only one of many alternatives presented to administration as a fair replacement for the ban.

Expecting an entire population of young women to fund and to present themselves in a gender-neutral manner in order to appease faculty oppresses the female student body as a whole. If the issue truly resides within the comfort of male faculty, banning skirts promotes a sense of intolerance and misogyny. Another solution suggests designating female counselors and staff to help encourage modesty will raise awareness among younger females.

Rather than fostering an uncomfortable divide between staff and students, CCHS administrators must recognize the concerns of all people within the community.

The tuition for the 2019-2020 school year costs approximately $18,000. On top of this, returning female students are being required to fund an entirely new wardrobe of pants, capri pants, and bermuda shorts, a change students deem demeaning and unflattering. In particular, members of the junior class are now expected to purchase enough clothing to last them the 2019-2020 school year only to retire those clothes a year later.

CCHS’s annual used uniform sale also is expected to see a major decline in profit as far fewer options will be available for girls due to the scarcity of pant and short donations.  

Expecting the families of female students to burden the cost of new uniforms is not only unfair, but it is entirely impractical.