Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 2, 2012
Dress controversy taught valuable lessons, didn’t ruin homecoming

Hot-button issues that interest the teenage population of Tooele County are hard to come by, but Stansbury High School’s dress-gate controversy has done the trick.

What has been called “The Stansbury High Homecoming Spirit Massacre” — at least on a Facebook page — is an issue that most of the community has become aware of already. After all, when girls are turned away at the door of their own homecoming dance on account of dresses that are allegedly too short, it’s bound to spark some controversy.

To the potential chagrin of the majority of my peers, my initial reaction to the mass dress code enforcement was this: kudos to the SHS administration. It’s about time that the dress code advertised in school planners and posters plastered all over the hallways was followed.

Admittedly, I see flaws in the randomly strict adherence to one aspect of the policy. For instance, girls with plunging necklines, bare backs and spaghetti straps or no straps at all were admitted with no fuss into the dance, while girls with only their knees or a small portion of their thighs showing were told to change or leave. Then there’s the ambiguity of the dress code, which states that dresses should be “at or near the knee.” That presents a gray area that is unfair to punish when breached.

However, the principle that the administrators were attempting to stand for, though executed poorly, was admirable. If there is a dress code posted — which there should be — then those attending the dance should be expected to respect it. Sure, it should have been more consistently and fairly enforced, but with all the attention the matter is getting, I have no doubt that it will be in the future.

Besides, in life there will always be rules to follow, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes, such as in this case, those rules are unreasonable. Other times they are widely accepted as necessary. Regardless, learning while we’re young and the stakes are still low to follow rules is a valuable lesson.

My guess is many will disagree with me. Many already have. That’s perfectly fine, understandable even. What is not understandable is the number of parents and students alike that have posted vehement stands against the enforcement that they claim “ruined”  their big night.

I went to the homecoming dance. My group, like many others, had some of our members turned away at the door, so we decided to stick together and go somewhere else to continue our night. However, unlike many others, we did not let the single event stop us from enjoying the overall day. Happiness is 100 percent a personal choice, and we chose to continue having fun.

Psychologically, memories are linked to and distorted by emotions. How can someone say that their child’s big night was ruined by the actions of the administration when their own anger is distorting the otherwise wonderful day into one of bitterness?

Even yesterday, as every class was called to an assembly and invited to write their complaints about the experience on a slip of paper, and Principal Kendall Topham publicly apologized and promised to make things right, some people were not satisfied.

As is tradition, most of the couples in attendance had already gone on a day date before the dance. Should the single instance of being asked to change — because yes, changing and coming back was an option — discredit the enjoyment of the day as a whole?

I was fortunate enough to be with a date who, though he was as bothered as I was with the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the enforcement, was willing to let go of the irritation and refuse to let it define our night.

I feel horrible for those who put forth such a tremendous effort this year into the planning of the homecoming dance, and I hope that they’ll realize that overall it was still a worthwhile week. I, for one, after a wonderful day date, a delicious dinner and other activities during the time we would have been inside the dance, can say that regardless of what anyone else says, and the fact that I only was actually in the dance for about a minute, this year’s homecoming was a smashing success.

 

Siera Gomez is a senior at Stansbury High School.

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