The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

Malvern untied? Proposed changes to dress code creating community buzz


Brian Tatlow ’14 & Dan McGlinn ’14

Groggy, not really sure where you are or what you’re doing. Take a shower, and the battle with the tie begins. Two, three, maybe even four tries to finally get it right. Nice and straight, not too long, not too short. One last glance in the mirror and finally ready to go. Ties have long been a Malvern tradition, as has the sport coat and formal dress code. However, a new survey recently sent to parents and teachers proposes that daily formal dress might soon be in the annals of Malvern history.

The survey proposes a change that would eliminate Malvern’s formal jacket and tie dress code. It will be replaced by a “year-round modern business casual”, as opposed to the seasonal attire. Students will no longer be required to wear a jacket and tie, and will instead be allowed to wear any collared shirt, not limited to the classic Malvern golf shirt. Khaki dress pants would eliminate the rainbow of pastel colored pants seen around campus. Sweaters and hoodless pullovers may be worn as well, but the strict law banning hooded sweatshirts will remain, and, unfortunately for many students,  “Timberland boots would go the way of the dodo,” according to Mr. Tim Dougherty, Dean of Students.

During certain formal events, such as a Morning at Malvern or mass, students would still be required to wear a jacket and tie.

“The idea originated from discussions with students and faculty,” says Mr. Dougherty.  “With all of this 21st education talk and the new ‘dynamic classroom,’ a more comfortable dress code would make things easier in the classroom.”

Another source of the proposed change is the new standards set by other schools. After investigating how the casual dress code works at these schools, discussions about a proposed change grew at Malvern.  Testing the waters, Communications sent out the survey to see determine community response before implementing anything. As with any proposed change of this magnitude, one can find strong opinions for and against the proposed change.

Mrs. Kenworthey sees the positive side of the change, saying, “I think it’s a great idea. It’s very real world.” She takes the perspective of what life is like outside Malvern and how people dress in the business world. “Malvern is a college preparatory school, so why not prepare them for that life?” Brendan Hallinan ‘14 agrees with the change as well. “It would be comfortable. I support it.” Dr. Sayers cited the impact of dress on performance by noting, “The way you dress is a statement on how you feel about yourself. I am for the change.”

Mike Sassano, MP ‘12, Drexel ‘16, sees the positive and negative. “I can see how the argument is valid and that students don’t exactly want to wear a shirt and tie everyday.” However, he notes,  “Wearing a shirt and tie everyday for the past four years really did help me for college,” citing his formal interviews and how Malvern helped him become comfortable in a shirt and tie.  “I’ve tied close to fifty ties for kids that don’t know how to do it themselves. A little sad, but it’s what Malvern is here for.”

In the end though, Sassano is for the change, mostly because it “would make classes like Ms. Plows’ ceramics and Mr. Dienna’s environmental science much more comfortable.” The only catch for him is the mandatory formal attire days, which he says should be, “strictly enforced because students should really learn how to dress professionally before they get to college.”

Others are strongly against the change. The traditional dress of a dress shirt and tie here at Malvern is treasured has been a long tradition. Jaxson Hoey ‘16 is shocked at Malvern’s proposal. “I can’t comprehend why Malvern would do this. I just don’t understand why. Malvern students should wear a jacket and tie.” He’s not alone. Other arguments against the change assert that since Malvern is a religious institution there should be a formal dress code. “There’s a certain level of class that goes along with wearing a sport coat,” says senior Ryan Bradley ‘13, who is in favor of keeping the current dress code.

Another complaint is that the nicer uniform shows outsiders that we are truly one body.  Parent Mrs. Melissa McGlinn (Dan ‘14, Tait ‘16) notes, “A private school needs unity.” However, as Mr. Dougherty observes regarding the current system, “It’s not a uniform but a uniformity of dress code.”

Dougherty understands that his job will be difficult if the proposed change comes to pass. After a long sigh, he observed, “Collared dress shirts leave a lot of leeway.”

The debate is out there and opinions have been established. Parents and facutly, your opinion is being weighed – and make your opinion heard soon, because the online survey closes May 1.

As for the students, all we can do is wait and hope for the best.

As William Shakespeare said, “Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.”  We wonder if our dress code options will be wider soon.

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