Tank tops expose bias


Courtesy of Caitlin White

Junior Drew Hendrickson is breaking the dress code while sophomore Sarah Woodward is not.

Warmer weather and the excitement for summer is a signal for many AHS students to shed some layers of clothing. For junior Drew Hendrickson, showing bare skin and underarm hair caused him to get in trouble with the administration.

During his lunch period earlier this month, Hendrickson was pulled aside by an administrator and told to cover up his tank top. He agreed to put on a sweater; however he was told that it wasn’t enough to satisfy the dress code.

Hendrickson was also told that his tank top revealed armpit hair that may provoke inappropriate reactions from other students.

After his unpleasant encounter at lunch, Hendrickson soon realized a stark contrast in the dress code –the rules have a double standard. The following highlights a startling case of gender bias within the administration.

“Why wasn’t [the girl sitting next to me] also pulled over?” Hendrickson said. For some reason they have a rule where girls are allowed to wear tank tops but guys aren’t.”

Hendrickson is referring to his friend senior Katie Pozdol whom with three other female friends were surprisingly not pulled over by any administrators.

In a recent interview, Principal Vincent Randazzo stated that both boys and girls have to cover up when wearing a tank top so that it’s not “intrusive to the academic environment.”

However, the way that the rule is being enforced suggests a different scenario. The administration won’t even allow boys to continue wearing tank tops even if they cover up.

At least seven other male students were asked to change their shirts around the same time as Hendrickson’s incident. Many girls were allowed to freely wear their tank tops, despite the crackdown.

Sophomore Will Chase is one of those seven students. Chase was given a detention by two administrators.

“As long as my clothes are appropriate, I should be able to wear what I want,” Chase said.

When wearing tank tops, male students are only showing a couple of inches more of arm skin. They’re not purposefully trying to suggest any inappropriate provocations while wearing tank tops.

Hendrickson was following the acceptable “three finger rule” when he was reprimanded by administrators, who didn’t even bother to check if his shoulder strap was long enough.

When looking at the provisions stated in the SR&R rulebook, Hendrickson isn’t directly breaking any rules.

According to the rulebook, students are not allowed to wear clothing and accessories that “expose cleavage, private parts, the midriff, or undergarments…”

Nowhere do the rules specifically state that tank tops are prohibited in school environments. And besides, when exactly did the no tank top rule come to play in the first place?

The administration is clearly oblivious towards the dress code situation. If they haven’t noticed, boys don’t have cleavage or want to scandalously expose their bodies in front of the whole school. What “private parts” can they possibly be showing by wearing a tank top?

In the meantime, girls across AHS are parading around the halls with noticeable short-shorts and spaghetti straps, while some boys are wearing jeans that are down to their knees.

And what about athletes that wear muscle tees to practice? Why are they allowed to wear their apparel and not ordinary students?

For the most part, since the administration is too focused on the crackdown on tank tops, they don’t realize the extent of other potential violations.

It’s clear that the administration draws its decision whether to pull students over for wearing tank tops based on body types and overall looks.

“We try to approach each case equally and independently,” Randazzo said.

As convincing as it sounds, the facts say otherwise.

Moreover, the administration has taken unrealistically extreme measures on male students that wear tank tops. Hendrickson was warned with a week-long suspension, if he were to wear a tank top again.

It doesn’t make any sense for a student that wears a tank top to have a punishment equivalent to a student that tries to deal drugs in school.

The administration claims to have the authority to enforce the “no tank top rule” for male students based on a hidden clause in the SR&R rulebook. The clause states that the provisions under the dress code section of the rulebook are “not limited.”

However, if the administration is going to enforce a “new rule,” they should at least make it clear to students. The only place where students can see the rule is under an obscure file on the AHS website.

Even though there is technically a rule written down on school policy, it’s not right for it to have different implications on male and female students.

If every boy at AHS is not allowed to freely wear a tank top, then it’s only fair if the same rule is enforced on girls. Rules are meant to be equal, not skewed and biased towards different genders.

Discontent over the crackdown on tank tops has led to an outpouring of support among students, especially female students. A total of 314 students and counting have shown their support in reforming the dress code for fairness by signing petitions circulating around the school.

In the meantime, why don’t we all shave our armpits to satisfy the administrators?