Should Elder have a dress code?

An article about whether Elder high school should enforce a dress code, opinionated by students and teachers.


Clay Sohngen

A side-by-side of the everyday uniform at Elder high school, and the “Purple Friday” attire.

When walking the halls of Elder, there is one obvious thing- the students are all wearing polos and dress pants. It is usual for Catholic schools to have a dress code such as this, but, on Fridays, we all show off our school spirit on Elder’s famous “Purple Fridays”.It is part of the Elder tradition, however, to look official. Students here back in the day had to wear a shirt and a tie, not just a polo and khakis. The discipline in the past at Elder was more strict. If the top button of the dress shirt was undone, a student would often get a written punishment, or even detention.

It is indisputable that Elder has become more laid back about the dress code, but every student would enjoy being out of uniform every day,  if it was essentially a purple Friday every day of the week.

There are contradictory beliefs that are very popular when dealing with this issue, one of them is “Dress for success”. Others believe that being comfortable helps students to test and learn well. These are both opinionated, so I went to the students to get first hand opinions.

Mitch Harter, a senior, believes we shouldn’t have a dress code. “I seem to learn better when I’m in comfortable clothes,” said Harter. “It really makes a difference.” Mitch went to St. Jude for grade school, where there were also uniforms for the students.

Noah Morris, a former Elder student, and now an Oak Hills High School transfer, believes that uniforms are the way to go. “I preferred the uniforms at Elder, because now I have more laundry to do, and have to worry about what clothes to wear,” said Morris. Noah believes that Oak Hills should have a dress code. “I like having everybody look the same, so I don’t have to worry about how I look.”

Mr. Reuben, an English teacher at Elder, has weekly writings for his students on Wednesdays. One of his topics was whether Elder should have a dress code. He thinks that Elder should continue the dress code regulation.

“Students seem to behave better and there is less of a distraction with the dress code, it sets us apart from other people,” said Reuben. He gave me a rough estimation of about 95% of student responses being for the continuation of the dress code. Most student responses were that there are limited choices for what there is to wear, there is no need to spend extra money on clothing, and that it maintains the Elder tradition.

Mr. Ruffing, our dean of discipline, strongly believes that the dress code needs to stay. “It helps with the personal appearance of the school for the public, alumni, and the guests,” said Ruffing. “It gives a sense of routine, and orderliness.” Another aspect Ruffing mentioned was how parents have said how much of a relief it is that they don’t have to spend extra money on other clothes, and how students don’t have to worry about what they are wearing. Ruffing sees no future changes to the dress code, especially after the change of not having to wear a tie after the 1980’s, and now allowing Sperry’s as acceptable shoes.

Should Elder enforce a dress code?

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Overall, there are benefits for both arguments, but Elder has a tradition of discipline and professionalism. The purpose of high school is to prepare for the “real world”, which, most of the time, will require a uniform. Almost every office job requires a uniform, the majority of the time a shirt and tie. My final verdict is that Elder should continue to enforce a uniform among the students, to truly prepare them for the future.