Toga Tuesday Forced to Unwrap

By Ivana Kosir

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ivanaWe should have seen this coming. Our generation has become a gap generation, stuck between two very distinct eras. We are transitioning into a much more sensitive society,  and while that may not always be a bad thing, its effects are undeniably present. This seems to be a trend with the traditional unofficial senior spirit week that keeps getting busted by authority at Niles West.

Last year, Sunglasses Day and Cowboys vs. Indians Day prompted security and the deans to force students to modify their costumes and outfits. Even more recently, the pep rally’s cancellation and the authoritarian confiscation of seniors’ togas yesterday sparked frustration within the senior class.

If you haven’t heard already, this week seniors are hosting the traditional unofficial senior spirit week. Yesterday’s theme was Toga Tuesday, and many seniors came to school wrapped in bedsheets, representing a toga-styled outfit. While it all seemed like simple, clean fun to the seniors, the deans and security thought otherwise, ordering any seniors they saw to report to the deans’ office to hand over their bedsheets, forcing them to change into “normal” clothes.

When I got pulled over by dean Elizabeth Gomez, I was told that since Toga Tuesday was not a school-sponsored spirit day, seniors were not allowed to wear togas in school. Then I was asked to change into regular school attire.

But what is regular? We attend a public and diverse high school, and everyone has a different sense of “normal.” To some, wearing Doc Martens, black skinny jeans, and a punk-rock band t-shirt is considered normal. To others, leggings and a blouse is casual wear. Some people even come to school rocking Pikachu suits.  My point is this: “normal” is subjective, and just because a group of seniors decided to celebrate class spirit by wearing togas on a Tuesday doesn’t constitute the detaining of bedsheets.

According to principal Kaine Osburn, the only reason togas should have been removed was if they interrupted learning, unless they were bluntly violating the dress code (no shirt, no shoes, etc.)

“Someone would only be asked to change or amend their attire if somehow their toga were a distraction or disruption to learning,” Osburn said.

Assistant principal Kendall Griffin confirmed that some seniors, especially males, were wearing togas without shirts, which is a violation of the dress code. This prompted the deans to ask students to take off their togas.

While this is true for some of the seniors who participated in Toga Tuesday, many seniors who weren’t violating the dress code were asked to remove their togas. I was wearing a white short-sleeve t-shirt and jean capris, and Gomez insisted on me removing my toga.

It just so happens that yesterday was the warmest day of 2013 so far. What does that call for? Short shorts and revealing shirts, of course. So as security guards and deans kept a lookout for any senior in the hall wearing a toga, girls wearing short shorts and skimpy shirts strutted down the halls–clearly violating the dress code– and got away with it.

How could a toga be more distracting than a Pikachu suit or daisy dukes?

It’s these inconsistencies that make the senior class frustrated with Niles West. Only a few weeks ago, the pep rally was canceled due to rowdiness and safety reasons. And here we are, in a safe and appropriate manner, celebrating class spirit for a final time before we all leave on different paths, and it gets taken away from us again. Wearing togas did not break any rules or distract anyone; it simply was an effort to bring the senior class closer together. Yet, seniors wearing appropriate clothes were the ones asked to change, not the people who were actually breaking the code.

If the administration plans to continue to address the dress code during unofficial senior spirit week, perhaps they should be more consistent on their enforcement of the dress code throughout the year. Otherwise, respect towards authority will be lost.