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Dress code issue a tough one

WEB ONLY: Editorial

The Post recently hit an important electronic milestone; for the first time, a story received 20 user-submitted comments.

We unveiled the feature back in early November, and although it took a few weeks for people to realize how it worked, it's now an important part of the www.sandypost.com experience.

As of Thursday, Feb. 15, the Feb. 7 story, 'Sandy High dress code targets gangs' by Garth Guibord, received 20 responses from readers, which is a good thing not just because people are using the system, but because they feel that sharing their opinions has some value.

Of course, our site wasn't the only place where people were talking about the controversial dress code changes at Sandy High School. But ours was the first place, and the place where you knew you could find the home crowd.

This dress code issue is a tough one, one that's not easily decoded. We applaud the efforts of Annalisa Peterson, Sierra Willett and the rest of the Guys/Girls Against Nonsense Government (G.A.N.G.). In an age where young people are increasingly apathetic regarding civil liberties and taking a stand for their beliefs, it's nice to see some of our own teens making a little noise and attracting media attention besides our own.

That said, however, we fully understand the need for security in the high school. We can't wait for the 'big city' problems to get out here before we start taking some preventative measures.

Most people went through school with a ban on hats and sunglasses (and chewing gum, for that matter) in class. It's just a fact of life. Why those items were ever allowed on campus is foreign to us. We didn't see that as a violation of rights; it was just the way things were. Taking off hats and sunglasses was a sign of respect. So we have no real issue with that.

We do think, however, that a ban on all clothes bearing non-school-related numbers or the cities of New York or Los Angeles is a bit absurd. Unless there's a large contingent of Red Sox fans at the high school, no one's going to incite gang violence by wearing their New York Yankees jersey. That's just not Sandy High.

We also believe that there should have been a better, more conscious effort to inform the students and parents of the changes, and at least ask for their opinions. That's part of the reason why students are getting so fired up about this. Principal Jim Saxton has owned up to that communication shortcoming, but had the school done things the right way from the beginning, the policy probably would be a bit more fair and wouldn't have created the controversy we see today. Communication is the key.

It's a good thing the high school is going to take another look at the new rules. The general premise of the idea is good, we believe, because we need to know who is on campus that doesn't belong there, and apparently that's been a problem.

If there are issues with too many entrances and exits, let's look at perhaps limiting those access points. If we're experiencing a burgeoning gang problem, let's deal with it; let's dismantle these gangs, not by getting them out of uniform, but by finding some of the root causes and dealing with those before the problem gets out of hand, a la Gresham/Portland.