Fashion and clothing choices are ways for people to express their identities, and some Temple students who had dress codes at previous schools get to explore this.
Of the 17,000 people between the ages of 18 and 64 polled, 22 percent believe dress codes in high schools limit people’s freedom to express themselves, and 13 percent said it targets their gender in unfair ways, according to a 2017 survey by the Today Show.
Madison Joy, a freshman health professions major from Vermont, said she feels more liberated in college without a dress code.
“At Temple, I feel like I’m judged less, so I tend to be more daring in what I wear,” Joy said. “There are a variety of body types here at Temple so I feel more represented. When I see other girls that look like me wearing clothes I used to be too scared to wear, like crop tops, I feel affirmed that I really can wear whatever I like.”
In 2018, the principal of Oakville High School in Oakville, Missouri apologized to parents after telling female students they should not show off their bodies for fear of “distracting” male classmates, KSDK (Channel 5) reported.
Kate Kubiak, a freshman civil engineering major, said that because dress codes are no longer enforced in college, instructional time is not wasted because of how a girl is dressed.
“One time a girl in my class got [in trouble] for wearing a crop top and the whole process of her getting sent to the office was much more distracting than I think the shirt had the potential to be,” Kubiak said.
Nationwide, 53 percent of public schools enforced a strict dress code during the 2015-16 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Teachers are more likely to discipline girls of color for minor offenses, like dress code policy violations, and are more likely to give them harsher punishments, according to a 2014 study by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
Sociology Professor Amanda Czerniawski said dress code regulations are often directed at the female student body, which sexualizes young women.
“This raises the interesting question of whose responsibility is it to regulate teenage sexuality? Is it that of the girls, to prevent being a distraction to the boys? Or is it that of the boys to learn how not to be distracted by the girls,” Czerniawski said. “The answers to these questions reveal the gendered nature of human sexuality.”
Soumya Sam, a freshman psychology major, said without a dress code, she can now use fashion to express herself on campus.
“I can be as conservative or revealing as I’d like, which helps with my confidence in my body and personal style,” Sam said. “I can be as daring as I want because I don’t feel like my body or clothes are being criticized.”
Sam said she is very excited to have chosen a supportive college.
“The environment at Temple is a lot more supportive because I can see a lot of different people and see myself in them which makes me feel more confident in many aspects of my life,” Sam added.