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Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Prep/Villa dress down inequality raises questions


All students at Prep are well aware of the strict dress code. Each student must sport a dress shirt, khakis or gray pants, dress socks, a belt, dress shoes, and a tie. Mr. Smith has been very adamant lately about students adhering to every aspect of the dress code outlined in the handbook.
Fortunately for students, every once in a while they can buy a dress down priced at $2 in advance and $4 the day of. On Friday, April 28, Key Club hosted its monthly dress down. In recent years, students could buy a $10 pass at the start of the school year that gave them a dress down once a month, but this year students have to pay for each monthly dress down separately. If students wish to participate in all the dress downs, it would cost $16-18 throughout the year, depending on where in the month the dress down falls. If they buy the passes the day of, it would cost even more than this. Some students find these prices worth it, while others do not. It seems this year it has become increasingly inconvenient for the gentlemen of Prep to purchase dress downs.
When complaining about these issues, it’s comforting to most Prep students that they are not the only ones dealing with these struggles. All Prep students have to put up with the dress down policies. However, in the past week it has become increasingly apparent that there is no form of dress down equality shared with our Villa sisters. From April 24-28 (Monday through Friday), Villa had not one, not two, not three, not four, but five free dress downs. Prep has had maybe three free dress downs all year, and it’s been months since we’ve had one. This screams inequality.
Upon looking into why Villa had all the dress downs, apparently the week in question at Villa has been termed “Spirit Week.” The dress down themes from Monday through Friday went as follows: comfy, spirit, jersey, tie dye, and tourist. According to Villa junior Alexandra Karlinchak, throughout the week they were given talks on “public safety, drugs, and driving.” Most would expect the driving talk to mainly focus on avoiding drunk driving, but Karlinchak stated that “speeding was the main topic.”
After further investigation, it’s clear that the purpose of this week at Villa was to educate the young ladies on very important topics related to their safety and well being. When being confronted with what can be unsettling subjects, the Villa students surely deserved to be dressed comfortably. It’s not that Villa didn’t deserve their free dress downs, it’s just that Prep deserves some free dress downs as well. Prep principal Mr. Smith stated that a few students had asked him why Prep did not host a similar Spirit Week. Mr. Smith asserted that the main reason he didn’t push for a similar event was that he didn’t know that Villa had this event.
When asked what the Villa Spirit Week was all about, Villa principal Ms. Karlinchak responded, “Villa had Spirit Week this past week that was planned and organized by our student council.  The council proposed fun themes for each day and brought in a guest speaker, all of which was approved by me as principal and paid for by student council’s budget, as a way to promote school unity and foster school spirit. Spirit Week has been put on successfully by Villa’s student council for many years and centers around a theme(s) to empower students and promote positivity in the school.”  Once explained, the Spirit Week clearly has positive intentions and accomplishes what it is meant to. Also, it seems that the presence of Spirit Week at Villa and absence at Prep is not actually an administrative issue, but one that lies in the differences in each school’s student councils.
Prep SGA President Douglas Spizarny stated explained the reason Prep did not put on the same sort of week. “Our student governments are different and we have many other organizations that do these safety events, such as SADD,” Spizarny said. This is true, but SADD has sponsored only two days of drug related events this year, in comparison with three days of speakers at Villa throughout Spirit Week, and the students of Prep were not granted any sort of dress downs, paid or complimentary. Spizarny, along with other SGA officials, are working on getting a free dress down for the seniors of Prep in the near future for seniors to display where they will be going to college next year.
In summation, the educational Spirit Week at Villa is undoubtedly a justifiable cause for dress downs, but Prep deserves just as many dress downs, and deserves the opportunity for free dress downs as well. It’s nice to be given a little reward in the form of a comfy school day. According to Prep senior Jacob Labonte, “A free dress down a day keeps the doctor away.”
Even more worrisome than a lack of complimentary dress downs is the prospect that perhaps Villa has been given more information on how to live a safe and healthy life. Recall, Villa had three days of speakers, and Prep had two. Though this is only a one day difference, whatever information could’ve been discussed on a third day may have proven invaluable to a Prep student. In the future, it should be ensured that Villa and Prep be given the same exposure to informative safety presentations, and that no vital information is withheld from one school or another. This unequal distribution of complimentary dress downs may have drawn attention to a more significant disparity.

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