To the Editor:
Challenging our peers, our teachers and Andover as an institution is something that the class of 2015 has repeatedly done: our co-presidents are the first male-female pair; we are the grade that has been instrumental in both the Feminism is Equality (F=E) and More Than Just A Number (MTJAN) movements; we produced Out of the Blue; we changed Senior Superlatives to make them more inclusive. And there are already plans afoot to change some of the more toxic attitudes surrounding prom. Why then, should we not also work to change one of the most problematic traditions that still remains deeply ingrained in our schools culture? We are talking, specifically, about graduation attire.
There is no specific rule that mandates girls wear white dresses and boys blue blazers and khaki pants, yet every year, each member of the graduating class adheres to this strict dress code. There are many problems with such a dress code, some of which I will enumerate here:
The association of white dresses with virginity and purity.
The culturally restraining connotations of the attire: blazers and white dresses do not allow individuals to celebrate their respective heritages, instead enforcing a Western standard of dress.
The classist connotations of the attire: blazers and white dresses, while “nice,” are distinctly upper class.
The lack of homage to Abbot; one of the reasons boys wear navy is because it is a school color. Why shouldn’t students also be invited to wear Abbot blue?
The inevitable and unjust exclusion of genderqueer and gender-nonconforming students, both from Commencement as well as this entire conversation about attire (their voices have largely been absent, which has focused primarily on the previous points).
And yet, when some Seniors proposed bucking the trends of the past years, the response from others was largely unsupportive: those opposed suggested that students who did not adhere to the traditional dress code were disrespecting their classmates, dishonoring the school and would “ruin” the coordinated photos and glossy spreads that will, in two months time, be our tokens of remembrance of this special day.
The fact of the matter is, there is no dress code, and people should be able to wear whatever they damn well want to. Graduation day is about our class, the class of 2015. But it’s also about each individual. We’re all graduating, and we all have the right and the honor to celebrate ourselves. It is a shame to think of friendships being ruined over something as petty as what one wears to graduation.
Ultimately, we hope the Deans will move to make an official statement that there are no official rules surrounding graduation attire – so long as students dress respectfully, it shouldn’t matter what we wear. There are some students who think that, in the future, we should restrict graduation attire to shades of blue and white, an alternative also worth considering.
The point is, it doesn’t matter what you wear, and we invite you to join us in celebrating our graduation, celebrating ourselves, and celebrating each other.
Lily Grossbard ’15
Caroline Lu ’15
Corinne Singer ’15
Jaleel Williams ’15
Catherine Hoang ’15
Nya Hughes ’15
Rani Iyer ’15
Rhaime Kim ’15
Maggie Kobelski ’15
Anna Krakowsky ’15
Haille Mckenzie ’15
Scarla Pan ’15
Lauren Smith ’15
Grace Tully ’15
Justine Wang ’15
Lily Grossbard, ’15, Rani Iyer ’15, Grace Tully ’15 and Justine Wang ’15 were members of The Phillipian, Vol. CXXXVII.