Monday, January 09, 2006

HIGH SCHOOL TAKES A STAND FOR THE "AMERICAN WAY"



Back when I was in high school, back in the middle ages, dress codes were widely enforced. At my school you sure as hell could not wear jeans (and I spent half of my time in the “office” arguing about the length of my hair).

Thought those days were past.

This may not be the most important story of the day, but it brings back the old memories.

In Nebraska today, about 100 students at Bellevue East High School took time out for a peaceful protest. It seems that last Friday, many students were sent home because they were wearing jeans with holes or tears in them. Most of the students who were sent home wore holey jeans in protest of the new enforcement. They said the policy isn't fair.

"It's, like, impossible to find a pair of jeans without stuff like this nowadays," said Nick Rose.

Rose's $35 pair of jeans got him sent home from school Friday morning.

"They're sending me home for this thing right here," Rose told KETV, pointing to a ragged edge of the pants.

Bellevue East Assistant Superintendent Jeff Rippe said the dress code has been part of the student handbook for years, but administrators had let enforcement of the code slide. In November, the school notified the students that the policy -- including the ban on ragged jeans with holes in them -- would be strictly enforced after the Christmas break.

"Obviously, some of them don't agree with our policy. But that is our policy. It does need to be enforced and will continue to be enforced," Rippe said.

Students say they are fed up with the administration's crack-down on violations of the school dress code. So they took to protest this morning in front of the school and wore ripped jeans.

Junior Ashley Murphy, who also sported ripped jeans today, is frustrated by what she sees as a double standard. Some students wear fishnet stockings to school, she said, revealing more skin than the jeans do.

Many of the jeans have a variety of large and small holes. The holes are usually filled in by loose, white, denim fibers.

Though pants with small holes might not be distracting or revealing, the Bellevue district has an across-the-board policy, said district spokeswoman Cathy Williams said, to avoid dealing with students on a case-by-case basis.

"It's very clear direction," she said. "No holes at all."

Neither the nearby Omaha nor Millard school district has an across-the-board policy. Each district leaves dress code enforcement to principals, spokeswomen for both districts said. Neither has had an issue with ripped jeans.

An associate at one local clothing store wasn't surprised by the Bellevue students' reaction.

Ripped jeans have been on the scene for the last year and a half, said Cali Jones of Plato's Closet, a "gently used" clothing store geared to teenagers. They have been really hot for six months.

"They're very popular," Jones said, "as long as they look really worn."

"It's stupid," student Lisa Kinney told the Belleview Leader. "You can wear short shorts or something else. (The jeans) are not scandalous or anything."

Seriously, you’d think school administrators would have more important things to worry about.

But I’m biased. I the real thing right now – old frayed jeans. Sources: KETV (Nebraska), WOWT (Nebraska), Belleview Leader (Nebraska)

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