Dean of Students reminds upper school campus of community dress guidelines


Carter Chadwick

Dean of Students Kevin Williamson addresses the student body on the Community Expectations on dress during the school meeting on Monday.

by Alysa Suleiman, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Dean of Students Kevin Williamson gave an announcement on Monday during school meeting to remind students of proper school attire. Williamson’s announcement covered the history of the current Community Expectations for dress found in the Upper School Student Handbook and emphasized the importance of showing respect through dress.

“Whether you realize it or not, what you wear significantly impacts those around you,” Williamson said during the speech. “How you choose to get dressed demonstrates your level of respect for your teachers when you walk into their classroom… who work hard to make the school one of the best in the nation, for which it is and should be a privilege to attend.” 

On Tuesday, Williamson followed up with an email to students and parents, citing the school’s history as a military school and the uniform requirements at the lower and middle school campuses. Williamson mentioned that the upper school opened with an official Dress Code that gave students the opportunity to choose their outfits rather than a mandated uniform. It included provisions for plain or collared shirts for boys and knee-length dresses for girls. 

The Dress Code also prohibited jeans unless worn with a shirt and tie or a blazer. According to Williamson’s email, clothing should be “conservative” and “modest,” as well as “comfortable, but not overly casual.”

“They are indeed minor expectations, yet a few students still feel it necessary to bypass these simple rules,” Williamson wrote. “Even with these high expectations in place, we held a firm belief that our young adults would make good choices that would reflect pride in the school as a result of this privilege they were being afforded. If not, as a private institution, we could always go back to a uniform.”

Last spring semester, when the upper school returned on campus for hybrid in-person learning, student dress was not as regulated as the current enforcements. According to Head of Upper School Butch Keller, this was due to the focus on everybody “being healthy mentally and emotionally being engaged.”

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to address [student concerns],” Keller said. “To just go out and break [the rule] is clearly not the right way to address it—and quite disappointing to me.”

Six years ago, a student committee met with faculty members, parents and administration around and succeeded in changing the previous Dress Code to create the current Community Expectations. Keller encourages any students who wish to address their concerns to meet with their respective class councils.

“I want the upper school community to be a place where students and adults can feel comfortable,” Keller said. “Your health, whether physical or emotional, is top priority, [as well as] a sense of belonging in the community.” 

The Associated Student Body (ASB) council met today with Keller to discuss community response to the Community Expectations for Dress. ASB and the Student Diversity Coalition (SDC) are organizing a town hall on Wednesday, Sept. 8, during office hours at 10:05 a.m. in the quad. According to ASB, the town hall meeting aims to collect community ideas and concerns in a “considerate deliberative environment.”  

“We appreciate all your suggestions and are glad to see so many students step up as leaders and advocate for an initiative,” ASB said in a Schoology update to the upper school. “We look forward to hearing your thoughts.”

Additional reporting by Nicole Tian. 

A previous version of this article misspelled Dean of Students Kevin Williamson’s last name. The article has been updated on Sept. 3, 2021 to reflect the correction of this error.