La Femme club leaders held a town hall meeting open to all students Tuesday afternoon to discuss the newly enforced dress code with Interim Head of Upper School Liz Resnick. After Resnick informed students and parents of a stricter dress code policy in an email Sept. 28, some students disagreed with its guidelines, which sparked a controversy on campus.
The town hall meeting was organized to address students’ problems with the dress code and the societal issues associated with the new rules.
“We have three main concerns,” Liz Yount ’17 said. “We want equal enforcement of the dress code between all genders, not just targeting women. Secondly, we’re trying to change or revoke the policy where you can be asked to change clothes or even have parents be brought in to discuss. The third goal is understanding the implications of dress codes and the greater overall idea of rape culture.”
Yount, who started a petition to amend some of the dress code rules, said during the meeting students were able to address an array of gender issues troubling Harvard-Westlake.
“The conversation expanded past simply the dress code, but also to talking about general hostility that many girls on campus face,” Yount said. “We also addressed the issue of harassment via Facebook that many women in our grade face from the guys of the senior class, and how we can rectify that.”
La Femme club leader Daria Arzy ’18 said the online disputes between students were discussed in depth with Resnick throughout the meeting.
“People don’t realize the weight of their words when they post something on social media, so they feel like they can post really upsetting things,” Arzy said. “We talked about inappropriate responses to feminism on the Facebook pages, in particular the responses to the dress code among the senior class, which turned into a very racist and Islamophobic dicussion.”
Those who attended said Resnick was receptive to students’ thoughts, even though her opinions differed from theirs.
“It was a good conversation,” Marie Begel ’17 said. “It was nice to have our voices actually heard and Resnick did her best to understand where we were coming from. Even if we didn’t agree on certain points, she validated that it was okay we had these views.”
The dress code policy is still the same, but Yount and other students plan to draft a document that they believe is best suited for the school.
“The meeting was successful overall because even if it didn’t yield actual change, it alerted the administration of our ideas,” Begel said.