Has the dress code changed, or are staff members just less strict?

Emily DeClark, Reporter

Nearly two years ago, principal Tom Lietz was approached by senior (at the time) Mina Viviano to change the dress code. After lots of research had been done, the issue was eventually set aside as COVID-19 spread, and schools focused on simply getting things under control. This doesn’t mean that nothing about the dress code has changed, though.

The student handbook doesn’t appear to have changed at all in terms of dress code, but students feel like it has.

“Unless you’re coming out,” senior Kaetlyn Kelly said, “like, literally naked they don’t care.”

The handbook still states attire such as “tank-tops”, “muscle shirts”, and “clothing exposing the shoulders or mid-section” are not allowed. This, however, doesn’t seem correct, as this clothing doesn’t get students in trouble.

“The most common dress code issues are hats and hoods, shirts with an inappropriate theme and shirts for girls that resemble bras,” counselor Deborah Olsen said. “Overall, Utica High students do an amazing job making appropriate choices for what they wear to school each day.”

Lietz was asked for clarification on the school’s rules.

“We try to be reasonable as to whether the clothing items are exposing undergarments or that are, in fact, equivalent to undergarments,” Lietz said. “We’re pretty lax but there are limits.”

It’s apparent that staff members have changed what they deem “inappropriate clothing,” but the handbook is still the same. It’s not clear when the official student handbook will change. Lietz was asked for clarification on if the handbook was updated and if not, when.

“Not yet,” Lietz said, “but it’s in the process of being updated.”

As mentioned earlier, they were trying to update the dress code before, but things didn’t work out.

“She [Viviano] proposed it to me,” Lietz said. “We worked through some language, we brought in Mr. Pfannes, he’s the executive administrator of the schools, the secondary education district. We brought in Dr. Bender who is the Chief of Staff for the superintendent, he thought it was great as did some other kids, and that was March 1st when we got to that point. And then March 13 happened and school ended and we went into Covid, and it was funny because I brought it up to Mr. Pfannes and he was like, ‘Oh my gosh! We meant to make some of those changes permanent in the handbook!’ So they’re coming, and there are some pretty significant changes, in my mind.”