No hats in school: a student’s perspective

No+hats+in+school%3A+a+student%27s+perspective

Andrew Brozek, '20

                                                              “I believe hats should be allowed in school”

                                                       “Yeah, I think hats should be allowed in school”

These quotes come from two members of the student body at Whitefish High School — a school with a strict no-hat policy. When I continued the survey of students, most of the responses were similar to those above: Students believe that hats should be allowed in school. This should not come as a surprise; Students are always in favor of granting themselves more freedom, and being a student, I agree. Correction: agreed. I was a believer that the no-hat rule was silly, and simply a rule put into place by people that don’t understand how teenagers think. After doing some research and asking some of the staff what they think, I have come to see a new side of this argument. It is the side of the people that enforce the rule. When I asked why, it always came back to three main reasons that hats are bad: they are disrespectful to wear inside, they are a distraction, and they represent gang affiliation.

The first argument is one that I have been hearing for years: It is disrespectful to wear hats in school. An article on hat etiquette from the Levine Hat Company states “A gentleman should remove his hat as he enters a building, including a restaurant, home, classroom[…]Hats are to be removed when inside, except for places that are akin to public streets, e.g., lobbies, corridors, and elevators in public buildings.” So what does this mean? That’s a good question. As stated, hats should be removed in the classroom, but what about in the hallways? Schools are composed of not just classrooms, but also lobbies and corridors, which means that proper etiquette allows for hats in those areas. This clearly shows that the “disrespect” argument is not valid, and does not reasonably explain why hats are not allowed in school.

Hats are something that we as students wear to express ourselves, or because our hair is messed up, or even because we like them. It seems strange, but these items can actually become a distraction. According to an article in Education World, “[…] there was a correlation between the number of ballcaps[…]and the level of behavior she’d witness.” The recurring idea that arose in my research was that hats seem to have some mystical power to make people feel more inclined to be rowdy. But even clearer to see, hats are something that students would have in class and play with. It is pretty easy to imagine someone getting bored in class, then they take off their hat, un-snap the back, snap it together, put it back on, take it off again, and so on. In that scenario, the hat very quickly turns into a distraction, and teachers don’t like distractions. There’s also the issue of hats getting lost. Hats are small enough to be easily taken and concealed in a backpack. Teachers and administrators should not have to take time to have to find all the lost and stolen hats. I think we can all agree that there are a lot of potential problems with hats, and this is only the first body paragraph!

The last problem with hats is the association with gangs. In an article from The Washington Post, it says, “hats are often used to identify gang members.” While this argument may be true in other places, I am not aware of any gangs in Whitefish. But if hats could represent gang affiliation, could they also potentially be a medium for vulgarities? The answer is yes. As in most schools, Whitefish has a dress code. This code does not allow for people to wear clothing with inappropriate language or images. If hats were to be allowed in school, then they would also have to abide by this dress code. In an interview with Mr. Peck, our assistant principal at WHS, it became very clear that maintaining a dress code is hard as it is, and the last thing they need is for more clothing to have to be monitored. He explained to me, “We are already having to regulate shirts, length of clothing, that kind of stuff. And again, that’s not what we want to do. We want to teach, we want to inspire, we want to motivate, and we want to assist people and equip them with the skill sets to succeed in life.” It is apparent that the workload being put onto teachers and administration is already surpassing what they should have to do. Having to monitor a dress code simply takes time away from other things.

Mr. Peck was very happy to tell me, “We don’t get up every morning and say, ‘God! I hope I can get a dress code violation today!’” Teachers come to school to teach, so let them focus on teaching rather than hats.