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FHS students say ‘tanks’ as school dress code changes

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER

#TheTanksHaveBeenSaved.

Two months after a hashtag on Twitter marked protests against Findlay High School’s dress code, students will now be allowed to wear tank tops as they return to class next Monday.

The Findlay school board approved a change to the high school’s handbook Monday that allows for certain tanks to be worn at school.

The new policy allows students to wear tank tops and cut-off shirts so long as one’s underwear, back, chest and

sides are all covered. Tank tops must also have a shoulder width of two inches, according to the policy.

The decision to change the policy came after school administrators met with student council members during the summer.

“We wanted students to know that we do listen,” said Principal Victoria Swartz. “It makes sense to let students wear tank tops during some of the hotter months.”

Students protested in May by wearing tank tops to school and by tweeting a variety of hashtags on Twitter on what they deemed “Tank Top Tuesday.”

Students also posted fliers that said #SaveTheTanks, #TankTopMassacre2014 and #ThisIsCommunism, to protest the dress code.

“Things exploded,” Swartz said.

Student organizers said about 100 students participated in the May protest, while school officials said the number was much 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 met the dress code, Assistant Superintendent Craig Kupferberg said.

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

The protest spurred sophomore Tom Gilgen and senior Patricia Barreto, both student council members, to approach Swartz and the administration about the tanks.

“People were coming up to us and saying, ‘You’re on student council, you should do something about this,'” Barreto said after Monday’s board meeting.

Gilgen and Barreto said difficulties with the tank top portion of the dress code went beyond the need to keep cool in non-air-conditioned classrooms. They said a lack of specificity in the dress code would often lead to one student getting in trouble for wearing a certain tank top while another one wouldn’t.

“Some people would just avoid certain teachers who were more strict than others,” Barreto said. “You kind of had to come up with your own solution.”

To make the two-inch shoulder strap standard easy to follow, Assistant Principal Lynsey Davis said a student’s ID, which is two inches across, can be used as a measuring tool.

“We’re able to be a lot more specific now,” Davis said.

While Barreto and Gilgen said they aren’t yet sure how students will react to the change, they hope the new portion of the dress code will satisfy the majority of the students who protested in May. Overall, they both said it’s good to know the administration was willing to listen to them and make a change.

“It feels good to know that we did good,” Gilgen said.

Filby: 419-427-8422
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