New Policy on Senior Uniform Swapping Tradition

Bela Parrett, Writer and Designer

What comes to mind when you hear “Senior Dance at Oak Park?” Do you imagine guys dressed in cheerleader uniforms and girls in football outfits, dancing in unison? This year, that image will be different, with a new policy against guys wearing skirts during the performance.

“When I took over Student Council, one of the biggest things that teachers and students felt needed to change was the cross-dressing at Homecoming events that had – up until this point – been a tradition at OPHS,” new Student Council sponsor Devon O’Connor said. “The biggest worry was that some of the students who would be participating in these events would act in a way that would be insensitive to those who dress in that manner as part of their own personal preference or style.”

this should be a place where everyone feels safe and accepted for who they are and who they aspire to be”

— StuCo sponsor Devon O'Connor

Universal acceptance is a school goal.

“In a sense, we were concerned that in the eyes of some students, dressing as a different gender would be seen as a joke,” O’Connor said, “and that isn’t something we ever want because this should be a place where everyone feels safe and accepted for who they are and who they aspire to be.”

This rule will only affect traditions, like the Senior Dance and the Powderpuff game.

“This doesn’t affect other times at school because the aim is to honor and respect the choices of people who express themselves in that way in their day-to-day routine,” O’Connor said.

StuCo introduced the policy this year to make any student who could be offended by the tradition feel more comfortable.

“The term cross-dressing is slightly offensive, which is why we changed it,” StuCo vice president senior Khalil Henderson said. “It’s not a ban. You can swap clothes you just can’t swap the skirts.”

In a student poll, 91.5% of seniors, who took the poll, disagreed with the change.

“I don’t think it should be [banned], because I think that was part of the fun, part of the tradition,” senior Ben Droptiny said. “It definitely added a fun aspect, comedy, all around goofiness, and personality to the dance that I think we’re going to be lacking now that it’s gone.”

Though the dress code change doesn’t have many fans, others believe this tradition is now outdated and offensive.

“I graduated from OPHS in 2011, and this has been a very robust tradition for many, many years,” O’Connor said. “However, as societal norms change and individuals become more accepted and comfortable with their self-expression, we need to adapt and change as well to reflect those values. “

Some believe this is a positive policy and it’s going to make the assemblies less offensive.

“I think Powderpuff and Senior Dance is fun, so obviously I’m participating and have to plan it, but I did think that sometimes when watching people on the sidelines that it was a bit of a mockery,” Henderson said. “It’s counterproductive and like a double-edged sword because obviously men can be feminine and you can wear whatever you want, but if you’re doing it in an offensive way then we can’t really do it, but the guys can wear the cheer shirts.”

Others think this negatively impacts the tradition.

“I think it would have been funny to dress as a girl and my partner dress as a boy, and us do matches to dance, or do dances to match our own gender, that look ridiculous, or good even,” Droptiny said. “I like to see what people were able to come up with, how far they were willing to go, if they were willing to go, y’know? Because it was definitely an experience getting to see some of my friends out there in short dresses and suits, square dancing.”