Big Brother is watching - where's your uniform?

By Ryan Solski
Turner Fenton Secondary School
Brampton, Ontario

It has all been written about before. Like the novel called 1984 there seems to be interesting parallels.

Amidst invigorating reactions in Ontario homes since February 2nd a seedy side to the controversy has been seen. On that day, Premier Mike Harris, reported in front of the Jewish Congress that a code of conduct could be implemented into Ontario schools by next fall. This would include a strict dress code.

In an interview with the CFRB, Gail Nyberg, chairperson of the Toronto District High Schools, expressed that it is,"almost insulting to have the students of Ontario portrayed as being totally out of control.

Johnson wishes to instate a code of conduct that he believes is new, however all Toronto schools, as well as many others, already have a similar code in use.

Former Turner Fenton student, Chris Butcher stated, "It's all turning into one big form of (thee George Orwell novel) 1984. We are being policed by the schools as they streamline them into one unit. The code of conduct, the uniforms, (and) the placing of a standardized teaching platform. Its all heading there."

At the head of the debate is the idea of a strict dress code. If this code is enforced it would mean all students would be forced to wear a uniform. The problem is, how would this help? The Dufferin-Peel High Schools, which already have a uniform code, have no apparent difference in crime than in the Public High Schools in the district.

David Molinaro, a grade 11 student at Notre Dame High School in Brampton says, "(the uniforms) don't make much of a difference. We have lots of crime. I actually find that the public
schools are a little better in the whole crime range thing than the Catholic schools."

The general feeling in Ontario's High Schools seems to speak of the students' wish for individuality. Many students find that uniforms would only 'cramp their style'.

Most of the students who are outspoken against the uniforms also advocate that they would not wear a uniform even if it was instated as part of a code of conduct in Ontario Schools.

There are students who wish for this change. The most common comment that has come up is the idea of not having to conform to trendy labels like Eddie Bauer or Tommy Hilfiger. This is a comment teachers and administrative staff have posed as well.

A look around an average high school classroom has revealed that very few students actually do 'conform' to these labels. The issue then becomes, does this warrant a dress code to change this one small argument?

However, very few students look beyond the uniform issue. The code of conduct that Johnson spoke about is generally welcomed by the tax payers, but many Ontario Schools already have a code like such. Jon Li, an OAC student at North Park High School in Brampton feels that, "We already have a code of conduct, so how would a provincial wide legislature of one change anything?"