Mr. Gilyard Brings Attention to School Dress Code Controversy

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At an all school assembly on Sept. 11, Dean of Students William Gilyard announced that the school was going to take more initiative in enforcing the dress code and that a committee will be established to examine and assess the dress code. Mr. Gilyard said that while the dress code hasn’t changed, the enforcement will be stronger. “We are trying to be on it enforcement wise,” he said, “because why have something if you are not going to enforce it.”

He explained that the increase in enforcement was not triggered by any particular events, but rather by the fact that he and other members of the community had recognized times that there were people out of the dress code. He said that those violations of dress code made him wonder whether the intended outcome was happening and that the school was meeting its goals in setting the dress code.

“We want to engage student and adult voices on the dress code,” Mr. Gilyard said, “we have had it for three years. I am a big believer in examining policy.” He said that it is important for the school to gather feedback on how the dress code plays out in the real life experiences of students so that the school can be responsive to them. He also acknowledged that there might be tweaks to the dress code, but until then the important task will be to gather data on and follow the dress code.

Mr. Gilyard said that if students are out of dress code, they will first be informed by a teacher followed by a visit to his office. He added that students will receive an afternoon detention and be asked to either fix their outfits if they can or call their parents to bring clothes to change. He further explained that sometimes students will need to put on something from the lost and found office for the day.

Mr. Gilyard highlighted the two main changes in the enforcement of the dress code starting this year. He said that teachers will fill out a form each time a student is not in dress code so that he can keep a record of people that are constantly out of the dress code. He added that there will be a heavier emphasis on advisors checking the dress code of their advisees. “The fact that it is hard for advisors to see everything makes it a community responsibility,” Mr. Gilyard said. “We should all just respect the dress code. It’s not super cumbersome, though there are some grays that we need to look at.”

Mr. Gilyard said that the dress code committee will be made up of students and faculty from both the Middle School and the Upper School. He emphasized the necessity of gathering data from parents, students, and faculty. “I think we need to take into account parents because they are paying the bills and there are some expectations that they have for their kids,” he said, “and we need to take into account the kids, who are going through the fashion and dealing with it putting their own outfits on, and then the faculty, who are enforcing it and who are trying to be the keeper of the dress code.”

Mr. Gilyard said that it is important to gather all of this information to make the best decision possible for the future. “Not everyone will be happy,” he said, “and so I think the interesting thing is that when you look at the dress code, there is no guarantee of what direction it will go. It could get stricter. Who knows? But that’s the beauty of it. I have no idea where this is going to go. But I think it is important to examine and find out.” Mr. Gilyard said that ideally the committee will consist of two to three kids from each form as it will be hard to get things done if the group is too big.

Mr. Gilyard announced that the plan for the committee at this stage is to examine the dress code and gather data. More specifically, he explained that they are going to inspect the implementation of the dress code, the experiences of students in the dress code, and the experiences for parents who are buying the clothing.

“I want to continue to create an atmosphere where we are talking to each other and not simply complaining in dark corners about something that is going on,” Mr. Gilyard said. “If there is a constituent of our school—parents, kids, faculty—who feel like there is an issue happening, then let’s bring it onto the table and let’s have the conversation and figure it out.” Mr. Gilyard is ready to hear from the community and solve any issues people have. “Of course, there needs to be good rationale and reason behind these arguments,” he said.