The Evolution of the Servite Dress Code

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The Evolution of the Servite Dress Code

Eamon Morris, Managing Editor

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By now, every Servite student has heard the news: Servite High School will be switching to a streamlined dress code beginning in the Fall of the 2018 school year. According to a letter to parents, the administration made the decision because they “…believe that a unified image of our student body will help them to bond as a community of brothers with a shared sense of identity and better prepare them for the academic day.” The administration gave school safety as another reason for the shift. “Uniforms also allow us to quickly identify our students and those who do not belong on campus, for school safety,” said the email.

Mrs. Olga Hofreiter provided more information on the decision. Hofreiter, a Servite administrator for the past eight years, hasn’t noticed many major changes during her time on staff. “The only ‘changes’ to the dress code have involved very minor things like whether students can wear college sweatshirts or not, Hawaiian shirt rules, and the evolution of haircuts,” said Hofreiter.

Hofreiter does recognize the novelty of a shift to uniforms. However, according to her, all other Orange County Catholic schools have uniforms. “Servite has been the only school with a dress code instead of a uniform,” explained Hofreiter. “The concept has come up several times since I’ve been here, but there may not have been enough support or interest to implement one in past years until now.”

Mr. Victor Martin also gave commentary on the change. According to him, it was brought to his attention that the school has been trying to get dress code uniforms at Servite for a while. “…I solicited some alumni, faculty members, and students and it was pretty overwhelmingly stated that yes, it would make it a lot easier on campus,” said Martin. “We spend an enormous amount of time trying to interpret dress code, so it takes away from instructional time.” Martin made a good point. Almost every class at Servite begins with a dress code check that can occasionally take more time than necessary.

Many rising seniors have been indignant about the change, fearing that their senior privileges of shorts all year and Hawaiian shirts will be revoked. But Martin said that a lot of consideration has gone into keeping these privileges. “We have a method that we are going to try to get with student leadership. Senior privilege may change with changes in student leadership,” said Martin.

Martin is adamant that the new dress code will be manageable. “The new uniform is not going to be much different. It’s not going to be anything outlandish. You’re not going to be wearing a tie every day.” As for concerns from students, Martin was open. “If students have a complaint they’re free to email me or come into my office.”

This is the first time in the history of the school that uniforms have been required, which prompts a closer look into the evolution of the Servite dress code over the past sixty years. Evidence for this evolution can be found within the pages of crumbling yearbooks on a forgotten shelf in Mrs. Shirley’s classroom.

When looking at the dated yearbooks, an interesting phenomenon can be discovered. The dress code was actually less restrictive decades ago than it is today. Yearbooks from the 1970s and 1980s are rife with pictures of students with long hair, t-shirts, and unusual shoes.

Photos from the Servite yearbook archives show the drastic changes in hair code

Mr. Jim Hunt, a Servite alumni and longtime English teacher recalled this pattern in an interview. Hunt came to Servite as a freshman in 1967 and recalled the dress code as “…more strictly enforced but less strict. We could wear certain t-shirts. We could wear turtle-necks. The hair code was less strict. The hair had to be off of the collar, not the ears.”

Hunt has noted a pattern with changes in dress code. He described “lawyering up,” where students have consistently attempted to find loopholes in the dress code, which has contributed to it becoming more in-depth. All of this careful arguing and loophole-finding has served to solidify Hunt’s position on the dress code. “I’ve wanted a uniform for a long time,” said Hunt, “I think it avoids a lot of that silly stuff. I think it’s cheaper in the long run.”

Mr. Hunt grins for a portrait in his classroom

Some current students argue that the decision to employ uniforms next year limits student creativity. Jonathan Caico, a rising junior, said, “I’m worried that this change will limit the style and creativity of students.” Hunt sweeps this argument aside. “I think it’s laughable when the students talk about creativity,” said Hunt. “There are a lot of ways to express your creativity that don’t involve the clothes you’re wearing.” However, Hunt is in favor of uniforms that allow for a variety of colors and types, and he also advocates keeping certain privileges. “Senior privilege has been a tradition at Servite since I was a kid.”

Overall, it seems impossible to define the shifting currents of the Servite dress code. Much like the Wi-Fi signal in the 200 classrooms, the dress code appears to fluctuate frequently. It’s prone to sudden changes in strength and strictness. It can allow Hawaiian shirts one day and forbid thin socks the next day. It’s unclear what the future holds, but change is a certainty. In the long run, the desired result of the uniform is to help Servite students represent their school proudly both on and off the campus.

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