Project Mystique looks to defend students

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Sitting in class taking notes on her history lecture, a Frost eighth grader’s concentration was broken when she was called to the main office over the PA system. She put down her pencil and wearily stood up as a chorus of “oohs” rose from her classmates. Hurrying to the office, the girl’s mind raced, her palms sweating as she tried to figure out what she had done wrong.
When she got there, the girl was led into a small office, an administrator looming over her with a disappointed look. The woman asked if she knew why she was there. The student shook her head, wiping her hands on her shorts.
The administrator handed the girl a booklet opened to a page labeled “Dress Code.” “Read it out loud,” she commanded. She expected the student to read the dress code and recognize that her outfit was unacceptable. Only after the student admitted this and changed clothes would she be allowed back to class.
Students at Frost have been experiencing a stricter enforcement of their dress code since the beginning of this school year, and Project Mystique, a gender-studies club here, is planning to investigate and potentially engage Frost administration over the new approach.
The club, which facilitates conversation about gender-related issues, has taken interest in the Frost dress code because “dress codes and their relationship to gender roles… have been hot-button issues in feminism for years. Having an instance of this so close to home makes us at Project Mystique especially invested in its effects on our community,” senior Project Mystique publications manager Maria Samper said.
Samper is particularly invested in the investigation, as she has a sister, Julia Samper, who is currently an eighth grader at Frost. The school has recently been enforcing “a lot of makeup dress-coding, a lot of bra-strap dress coding,” Julia Samper said.
The club is concerned that the administration’s severe enforcement of the dress code could potentially misconstrue middle schoolers’ perceptions of their bodies. “The issue with school dress codes is that the way they’re enforced is very…sexualizing of girls’ bodies, and even boys’ bodies in this case…Their bodies are [not] inherently sinful,” senior Project Mystique co-president Daria Kerschenbaum said.
Frost students suspect that this dress code enforcement on boys and girls is a result of recent administrative changes. “It started when a new administrator came: Dr. [Alana] Murray,” Julia Samper said.
Murray began working at Frost this year as a principal intern and eighth grade administrator, according to the middle school’s website. However, she is not the only administrator who has been enforcing the dress code. Sixth grade administrator Jennifer Cooper has also dress-coded at least one student. “I was called to the office [by Cooper] one day during class,” an anonymous eighth grader, whose experience is the one detailed above, said.

 

Sophia Koval

News Editor