By Staff Writers Stephanie Dutra & Michael Ren
Students attended a FUSD Board of Education Meeting to call for amendments and changes to the current district dress code policy. The group, called More Than A Distraction (MTAD), formed in response to what its founders regarded as an outdated dress code that penalized offenders too harshly for breaking it.
The MTAD movement began in late September when Sophomore Flora Chang created a Facebook group called “Dress Code Protest” to address the issue. “I initially started this campaign because I got unfairly ‘dress coded.’ and when I looked around the school, I realized that there were girls everywhere getting ‘dress coded,’” said Chang. The group quickly gained more than 500 followers through online messages and word of mouth, with many students posting their own opinions on the matter within the group. As the movement grew in strength and numbers, a leading committee formed under the name MTAD.
Although the movement quickly gained popularity, not everyone fully supported it. FUSD Board of Education President Larry Sweeney said, “Like almost everything we do there’s a reason why we don’t just let people wear whatever they want to wear because certain students will just push it to the boundary.” Some students also voiced similar concerns in the Facebook group.
The campaign organized a dress-up week to raise awareness across the campus. Each dress-up day protested different aspects of the dress code policy while still adhering to it. Students wore tags saying “Hello, my outfit is more than a distraction” and “#MTAD” to express their dissatisfaction on the first day. The following days included a pajama day meant to expose the outdated nature of the dress code by protesting the “serious, business-like environment for learning,” a shorts-on-shorts day to challenge the code’s rules on shorts length, and a black-out day in which participants wore black clothing. Support in the form of dress up days incorporated the entire student body. Regarding the week’s impact, Campus Supervisor Brandi Speier said, “I thought it brought a lot of awareness to the campus teachers, and I think it opened a lot of dialogue, so it can’t get much better than that.”
To further publicize and protest the issue, the committee presented its argument to the Board of Education at its biweekly meeting on Thursday, October 13. In a four-part presentation, the MTAD committee highlighted its main issues with the dress code and proposed amendments to it. In her opening statement, Chang discussed the harsh penalties of being “dress coded,” and MTAD’s issues with the dress code, and recommendations on potential changes. Sophomores Ananya Verma and Alice Drozd followed up with speeches that reinforced what Chang had outlined, adding to the argument with their own points. These points included unequal penalization for dress code violations between opposite genders and the unnecessary banning of non-school issued hats. In his closing, Sophomore Andrew Wang reiterated the arguments made in previous speeches and called for the code to be reformed to better align with current views on attire.
Although no decision was made on whether the dress code would be changed, Sweeney hinted that the topic would be considered in coming weeks. He said, “The board will get a report on what exactly the dress code is, and if there’s two members of the board who want more discussion, then there will be.”
Please comment below if you would like to share your thoughts on both the campaign as well as the Board Meeting.
Photo by Staff Writer Stephanie Dutra