December 1969

Dress code renovators clash with immediate action seekers

   Last week Maine South went through a period of student agitation as South girls who were unwilling to wait for Student Council to take action donned an array of slacks to demand liberalization of the Maine South Dress Code.
   Protest reached a peak Friday ninth period when Marcia '70, apparent leader of an estimated 75 slack wearers, requested her group to "refrain from wearing slacks" the following Monday.
   Twenty girls came with slacks anyway, including Marcia. The same morning, Student Council President John W., announced over the public address system in homeroom an outline of progress in discussions with the administration on the dress code. Later in the week it was announced a renovated dress code would probably be in effect shortly after student returned to classes next year.
    The protest day was held by those students wishing to show displeasure with the pace of of talks on the dress code and to demand its immediate and thorough revision.
   Marcia put forward her position stating, "I am tired of the stalling by the district and others in the dress code change. My whole idea behind this is that the students have power and when employed in the proper use we can get almost anything we want."
   Marcia commented on the new dress code stating, "If the new dress code does not comply with our liking we will do everything in our power to change it. I will continue to protest and do everything in my power to see that it is changed." Marcia hinted at the possible use of the American Civil Liberties Union if necessary.
   Regarding the demand for the wearing of slacks, Robbie Little, Student Council secretary, stated, "I don't think it was a good idea. If students want changes, and these changes are justified, they should go through the proper channels." While expressing understanding of the girls' actions, Robbie thinks the opinion poll would have been a better method.
   Dean Smith is opposed to girls wearing slacks because that he feels attire and appearance affect behavior. He said he thinks such changes lead to a deterioration of discipline.
   Mr. Smith continued that those girls wearing slacks to school were not penalized by suspension or any other method. They were called to the office and asked to comply with the school rules.
   Dr. Watson stated that "he is not in favor of change just for the sake of change--we must change for the better." He stated that students should work within the school structure and that the committee should have the opportunity to function.
   Many doubts still linger in many students' minds about the particulars of the day itself.
   Marcia made her request for the girls not to wear slacks after she was informed that Mr. Robert Simonson, assistant principal, had stated he could see no reason for continuing discussion of the dress code if mass student protest would continue. After hearing this, Marcia asked to announce over the PA system a request to all girls not to wear slacks and was given the opportunity.
   Mr. Simonson related, "I merely told her (Marcia) that if we were to continue to have school disruption with students violating the present dress rules in order to force the issue, there seemed to be little point in an opinion poll. This, however, is a personal opinion."
   On this same point Marcia further related that administration policy had "forced a choice between a successful dress code change and a peaceful cooperative protest. I could have one or the other, but not both." Marcia later added that events had forced her into taking her position.
   The following Monday Marcia came to school wearing slacks to "show the administration that I refuse to be intimidated."
   In total, twenty girls showed up wearing slacks Monday, as opposed to an estimated 75 the Friday before.