Does material matter? A look into the revised MSJ dress code

We wanted to simplify the outerwear as much as we can.

Mr. Ryan Luckman, Dean of Students

As Mount St. Joseph eases into the 2021 academic year, confusion regarding the dress code has already taken place. The new rulings impact in-classroom coverings, specifically 1/4 zips. In an act to end the confusion, Mr. Luckman sent a faculty-wide email regarding the new enforced 1/4 zip mandate. According to the email, “Only gray and black 1/4 zips with the school seal on them [or MSJ], bought from the school store, may be worn during class, all other outer coverings are coats and should be removed during the class period.” As most students are aware, the hunt for illegal outerwear has been ongoing since the second week of school. But what does this new ruling precisely encapsulate? I interviewed Mr. Luckman, our Dean of Students, to clarify the attempt to end covering chaos.

A senior wearing an “illegal” blue Under Armor 1/4 zip.

Early this year, and years in the past, students have been wearing 1/4 zip coverings from companies like Under Armor, Patagonia, and Columbia and have been asked to remove them during class. Senior Jonah Matthews was told that he cannot wear a blue Under Armor 1/4 zip, see above. Students like Jonah are thrown into a spiral of questions on why their covering is not allowed. What makes that covering any different from the school-store 1/4 zip coverings? If the covering matches one of the permitted school colors, why must it be removed? The answer is the material of the 1/4 zip. The administration believes that the fabric of the covering determines its appropriateness.

This change made by Mr. Luckman was “all based on making it easier for teachers and staff,” to determine the correct covering. Mr. Luckman stated, “Some students are wearing things that kinda have (a) flat look to them, but then they have sweatshirt material inside…that’s a no-go.” He explained how the covering worn by Jonah Matthews would be allowed two years ago, but is now a violation of the dress code.

The new MSJ Seal (sweatshirt material) 1/4 zip from the School Store

The reason the material matters to administration is because of its connection to professionalism. I asked Mr. Luckman to dive deeper into professionalism and how material indicates that idea: “You don’t see too many people going to work at a business with a sweatshirt…we [the administration] don’t want anything that’s sweatshirt material.” So even if you wear the new light grey 1/4 zip with the MSJ seal (see above) from the school store, it is deemed unprofessional due to its sweatshirt-like material, and you will be asked to remove it during class. But you can wear it all around campus in between classes for that five-minute break!

For the past few years, students were allowed to wear 1/4 zips with sweater-like material. This led to the question: What is sweater-like material? This question can then snowball into a disruption of class time where a teacher must debate with a student over their apparel. Situations occurred where a teacher has told a student to remove their covering at the end of the day while this student has been allowed to wear it in all of his other classes. Students and faculty alike are adjusting to the full-time return to school, and are also adjusting to the new outerwear rule and its application. For example, I had a conversation about whether the Mount Saint Joseph 1/4 zip sweaters sold from the School Store a few years ago are allowed.  I would think the answer is yes, based on my conversation with Mr. Luckman.

After talking with Mr. Luckman, I think the revised rules are straightforward. Students can, in class, wear either of the two 1/4 zips from the school store, a cardigan or pullover sweater of the appropriate school colors, or a blazer. Hopefully will help faculty and staff quickly determine if the student is appropriately dressed for school.

Ethan Webber is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.