Face Off: Should school uniforms be replaced with dress codes?
- Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint
- This week, they discuss whether schools in Hong Kong should switch to a dress code, or stick with uniforms
Janice Mook, 16, Diocesan Girls’ School
School uniforms should be replaced with dress codes which can better cater to student needs. A dress code is a set of guidelines for what students should wear, unlike school uniforms which restrict students to a handful of outfits, whether or not they fit the day’s weather or activities. Dress codes enable students to choose clothes that help them feel comfort without overstepping what the school deems as appropriate attire.
Without a strict school uniform, students can wear clothes that reduce the sweaty, smelly aftermath of PE lessons. Although PE uniforms are meant for physical activity, in reality they are stiff and not very breathable. It is so uncomfortable to run in scorching hot weather, wearing a thick shirt sticky with sweat. But if students choose what they wear, they can replace the uniform with sportswear that is more suitable to their body’s movements and needs.
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In the summer, boys normally have to bear the heat in trousers, while in classrooms that are freezing from the air conditioning, girls only have a blazer or cardigan to wear on top of their paper-thin uniforms. As a result, students of all genders are often fidgeting in their uniforms. However, with a dress code, students can choose outfits that will help them adjust to abrupt changes in temperature.
Economically speaking, uniforms can be expensive. But dress codes allow students to wear what they already have in their wardrobes, and they can buy less expensive clothing items according to their family budget.
Students would feel more comfortable wearing their own clothes, and they may be less expensive than uniforms.
Uniforms also represent a student’s school, along with whatever reputation it may have, so uniforms might label students with any negative stereotypes associated with their schools. Dress codes, however, can prevent students from constantly being tied to their school’s reputation, and possibly being bullied for it.
Since dress codes can clearly define the appropriate clothing that students should wear at school, they should replace uniforms.
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Hannah Wu, 15, Island School
We’ve all experienced standing in front of our wardrobes, struggling to find the right thing to wear for every occasion. As a student, I’m grateful for the convenience that my uniform bring me. Every weekday morning, all I have to do is throw it on after washing up and eating breakfast, and then I sprint out the door. Wearing a uniform saves me so much time, especially when I oversleep or spend too much time eating breakfast.
Dress codes don’t give students the same benefits that school uniforms give. For example, when everyone dresses differently, students will feel little to no school pride on their way in to class. What’s more, strict dress codes can cause headaches for students who need to buy specific clothes to fit the guidelines, while lax ones leave it to individual teachers to decide what they think is appropriate for students to wear, leaving much uncertainty.
School uniforms take away the stress of deciding what to wear every day.
There are numerous benefits to wearing school uniforms. They encourage a sense of belonging and school spirit. By wearing the same uniform, new students will feel more included and comfortable around their peers.
Another benefit of wearing uniforms is that students will be less likely to compare themselves to others. Differences in clothing can draw attention to students’ body types or finances, which can foster an unhealthy school environment.
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Uniforms also narrow the economic gap between students because they don’t have to worry about brand names or the latest trends. With uniforms, there is less bullying based on clothing. At home, students will not endlessly bother their parents for money to follow every new fad in fashion.
One of the most notable benefits to wearing uniforms is the convenience. In the morning, students don’t have to take extra time picking their outfit. All they have to do is throw on their uniforms, and they’re ready to go.
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Students associate their school uniforms with going to school, which helps them get into the right state of mind for learning. They won’t be distracted by how their clothes look, and can focus instead on their lessons.
Dress codes will ultimately be more time-consuming and stressful for students - uniforms are a much better way for students to feel confident in themselves and in their schools as they step out of their homes and into the classroom.