Students stage protest, FHS says ‘no tanks’

THIS SIGN of protest was one of several plastered on walls and windows at Findlay High School on Tuesday. (Photo provided)

THIS SIGN of protest was one of several plastered on walls and windows at Findlay High School on Tuesday. (Photo provided)

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER

Findlay High School students on Tuesday protested a portion of the school’s dress code that prohibits tank tops, something they called “sleevery.”

Male and female students protested by wearing sleeveless shirts to school on a day they titled “Tank Top Tuesday.”

Organizers said about 100 students participated. School officials said the number was lower.

One student was suspended in connection with the protest, and two others were taken home by their parents when they refused to change their sleeveless shirts and wear school-provided shirts that meet the dress code, said Craig Kupferberg, assistant superintendent.

Students could trade the school shirts for their own at the end of the school day, but those who refused to change their shirts or further caused a disruption were punished, Kupferberg said.

“We always give them an opportunity to dress appropriately,” Kupferberg said. “If anyone was suspended it was for insubordination or for becoming disruptive.”

The school district’s dress code prohibits tank tops because they’re too loose-fitting and revealing, Kupferberg said.

“We want students focusing on their work, not other students,” he said.

School officials were aware that students were planning a protest of the dress code prior to Tuesday, because of discussion on social media sites. Students took to Twitter to air their complaints about the school’s dress code with hashtags such as #SaveTheTanks and #TankTopMassacre2014.

Students also hung up signs Tuesday at the high school, with the Twitter hashtags and statements such as, “Yeah, you know who else can’t wear tanks? North Koreans. #ThisIsCommunism.”

“We’re going all out. There were some huge things about it,” said Justin Dickey, 18, a senior who helped organize the protest.

Dickey and a few of his classmates came up with the idea for “Tank Top Tuesday” during a study hall session. Dickey said school officials are trying to keep students’ shoulders covered, despite Kupferberg’s explanation of the rule.

“We should be allowed to wear tank tops no matter what,” Dickey said.

With classes ending on June 2, students will only have a few more weeks to make their point, but Dickey said they plan on doing more next Tuesday.

Kupferberg, who previously served as principal at Findlay High School, has dealt with similar situations before. In the 1990s, hats were banned at the high school. Students protested by trying to wear hats, Kupferberg said.

Protests of the dress code and other incidents tend to occur the week after prom, he said, when students are no longer afraid the school will punish them by keeping them from going. Prom for Findlay High School was last weekend.

“It’s pretty common,” he said. “It tends to happen in the spring when it warms up and students get a little more rambunctious.”

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