By Geoff Swenson
After the recent Columbine High School shootings, there has been a nationwide trend towards something to prevent such an occurrence from happening. As a result schools have been cracking down on any activity that is deemed threatening. An excellent regional example is a Great Falls middle schools decision to suspend students for refusing to cease dressing in all black.
The school claimed that the students manner of dress was intimidating to other students. While the need to provide a suitable learning environment is very important to every school, the rationale behind this action is flawed for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a mistake to believe that by forcing the kids to remove certain articles of clothing or kinds of dress will be a solution. If students are determined to intimidate other students, then they will find a way to do so, regardless of what they wear. So there are very few, if any, substantial decreases in intimidation. Second, if a student has always worn all black attire (or something of a similar nature), it is unfair to all of a sudden determine that style of dress is inappropriate if those students did nothing different from what they have always done. It is dangerously close to punishing expression of freedom because the students have taken no action that is wrong. If the students take an actual action that is an outward expression of intimidation, such as actively threatening students, then they should by all means be punished. However, they shouldnt be punished simply for wearing black.
In conclusion, I am by no means in favor of banning all forms of dress codes. There is absolutely no reason why a student should wear clothing with profane language or that encourages violence, drug use or is sexually suggestive. That said, there is absolutely no reason to ban a color that was previously acceptable only a month ago before the shootings happened, if students do nothing different now than they did then. To do so will not really accomplish anything, but chip away another right of students.