OpinionThe dress code matters
The dress code matters
November 21, 2010
November 21, 2010

I’m the type of person who has random things on my head. I usually have what we Filipinos would call “trips” or rather crazy ideas. One of my “trips” is the dress code. It has been tried, tested and revised for a couple of terms already and this is an issue we can all relate to.

It does make sense to have a dress code because it makes the environment conducive for learning, and it brings the school integrity as an educational organization. Doesn’t it make sense that the future leaders of the Philippines are well dressed?

I just experienced an upholding of the policy by the ever so popular Discipline Office (DO). This office has the most dedicated employees, and they care so much about the students’ plight that they would guard the Marilen Gaerlan Conservatory and sit blissfully on the chairs, while sending text messages, to understand the students more.

My friend was caught by the DO two terms ago. The usual protocol ensued and she was asked to go to the DO to receive a heartfelt talk by the officer who was in fact, kind enough to let a few people off the hook (who were only meters away) as he guided my friend across the Central Plaza.

After she was given the “treatment,” we decided to go to the Human Resource and Development Office (HRDO) to complain about the endearing way that the DO officer talked to her.

While we were in the HRDO complaining about our endearing DO officer, I started to wonder whether the dress code really works. Pondering, I thought about the reasons the policy was made and the ways in which it is right. I started to ask around, via YM, text and the usual conversation with friends, why the policy exists.

Many of them said that grades do not have anything to do with the way people dress. It really doesn’t matter whether a person wears slippers or whether he wears shoes because when it comes down to it, people don’t get smarter nor more attentive if they wear shoes.

Has the dress code made us more disciplined? Perhaps there is a rationale and a different angle that we have missed. Would students behave better if they wore outfits that are made to get rid of students’ identity?

I asked students about it too and many of them argued that to begin with, if you are a violent person or if you are a “bad” person, dressing well won’t change that. They do have a valid point as many people really have not changed even though they may wear very expensive and educationally conducive outfits.

Besides, some of them argued, assuming that the policy does offer society something, that the dress code is a “no show,” which means that it is only seldom upheld. Seldom do I see my friends get caught by the DO, but maybe, just maybe, my friends all have bad habits and are all violators—they have pretty good grades. Almost all of them would agree that many people escape from the hands of the vigilant DO, and the dress code does not morph a 1.0 to a 4.0.

Perhaps we are all escape artists. Perhaps the students have developed a DO detector, but one comment from a person I consulted struck me the most. He said that the DO are like MMDAs, if you look good or know your way around things, it’s easy to get out of jail.

Clearly, the MMDAs are not a good judge of character. Maybe a percent or two shows genuine interest and concern but that’s too small a percentage.

This is the reason I tried looking out of the school to see whether I can judge a disciplined and smart person by the way he or she dressed and to see if Lasallians manifest the same. I decided to test it in the LRT as a number of students from DLSU and other schools take the same mode of transportation.

Thing is, I couldn’t judge their character or who they were as students based on the way they are dressed. Some of the people were construction workers and were a lot more gracious in making the women sit down.

True, there were some students who were well behaved, and there were some workers with bad attitudes, but can we clearly say that well dressed equals well mannered and educated? Sure, some of the less educated pushed people and didn’t move when they were asked kindly, but what about those who moved? What about the well mannered average income earner? What about the well dressed people who didn’t even budge?

Clearly, there is something wrong with the dress code. There is no connection between the dress code and the grades as well as the manner in which students act, or at least it has little basis or grounds.

The dress code makes sense in my opinion, just in a different way. It makes sense that we question it and the people who uphold it.

It is only when we question the policies that we will find the wrong answers to the right questions.