The facial hair dilemma

Sam Florian's norse beard

Sam Florian's norse beard

The Handbook of Elder High School is littered with statutes and regulations regarding all manners of conduct for Elder students. Among the rules regarding behavior, there is a particular rule that Elder students are always pushing. What is this rule? Why it’s the facial hair policy rule of course!

But why are students always pushing this rule? After all, it’s in the handbook. An easy answer to this is that most students simply do not read the handbook, even though every year every student is required to sign a document stating that they have read the handbook cover to cover. However, easy answers simply do not cut it in the journalism world, especially given the fact that most students at Elder have heard of this policy at one time or another, which would make it unnecessary to read the section of the handbook regarding this issue.

To better understand the opposing sides of this issue, it’s a necessity to gain insight on the student’s perspective.

Some students I have interviewed have told me that it’s a hassle to shave three (and on more extreme cases every) morning(s) of the school week. However this is not a valid excuse that teachers will accept.

Junior Sam Florian, a student who has no trouble growing a beard that resembles a Norse warrior, differs from most of the views of most Elder students.

Florian decided to answer in essay form when I asked him what his opinion is on the strict facial hair policy.

His answer was, ” After having my experience during the summer of full blown facial hair, I realized, not only how much of a scrub I looked like, but it was also very itchy and irritating.  Most of Elder’s teachers seem to be pretty lenient on the facial hair policy, allowing just a little scruff but not too much that it becomes out of control and not too little that everyone walking the halls of Elder looks like a freshman. In conclusion it’s a good compromise between students and teachers and I hope that it can continue to be this way.”

Looking at this issue from an administrator’s point of view, I interviewed Elder’s own Dean of students, Mr. Ruffing. Mr. Ruffing is notorious for enforcing this strict policy on students who think they can get away with stubble on their chin. It’s even rumored that if students are warned and still do not shave by the following day, Mr. Ruffing supplies them with a dull razor and paper towels to shave at school, and of course, there is no shaving cream!

I asked Mr. Ruffing why Elder finds the need to be so strict on this policy which seems so petty compared to other issues. He told me “the policy has been in place since 1922, and so is a longstanding tradition here at Elder. Another reason is that there are seniors here that cannot grow a single hair on their chin, while some freshmen can grow a full beard. And of course, you have to look sharp.”

He also told me that Elder wishes to maintain a businesslike atmosphere, and facial hair has the potential to be a distraction and disrupt this atmosphere. To paraphrase Mr. Ruffing, this rule, along with the dress code, adds uniformity to the student body and maintains an environment geared towards learning in the classroom.

For laughs, Mr. Ruffing added, “The main reason for this policy is because I cannot grow a beard if I tried.” I posed the question of what time of the year he has to enforce this rule the most. He told me “Definitely dance season. It’s funny because students will come to school all week with more and more facial hair, trying to build it up for the dance on Friday night.”

Both sides of this issue have valid arguments, but in the end, it is the person who has the most authority who makes the rules. While students may grumble over this demanding policy that requires constant shaving, they now, at least, know the reason why they have to wake up earlier than normal to shave before school.