Homecoming Dress Up Days Cause Controversey

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Courtesy of the BSM Marketing Department

BSM students participating in “Adam Sandler” dress-up day during homecoming week.

With Homecoming being something of the past, talk and chatter about the week has started to spread around the school. Homecoming dress up days have been a Benilde-St. Margaret’s tradition for many years, but this year, many of these dress-ups created controversy between students and staff.

The student council never intended to target nor create a divide between the student body. Their goal was to come up with fun, new ways for students to participate in the tradition. “I think the dress ups were creative. They were original. They’re very current…. They’re very popular and a lot of other schools are doing them right now,” Assistant Principal Cami Dahlstrom said.

Possible controversy over these dress-up days were addressed before the week even started. A group of faculty members met after the dress-up days were announced to discuss the themes and how they might affect the student body. “I had a conversation with Mr. Draughn, the Director of Inclusion and Equity, about being prepared for the impact of these days,” Senior High Theology Teacher Jermey Cramer said.

Moving forward… we’ll talk about all the different, potentially harmful ways that people can see these [dress up days] …I want to make sure to be careful about the dress up days, so we don’t offend anybody,”

— Dahlstrom

One worry amongst the faculty was that these dress-up days would be more dividing and offensive rather than uniting and friendly as in previous years. “I was a little offended by Thursday’s dress up. Simply because it was targeting certain ages, almost classifying that if anybody’s old that means they have canes and walkers. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t dig out my cane or my walker for the day,” Campus Minister Mike Jeremiah said.

Many students thought that the dress up days added a fun element to homecoming week, as many of the days were students’ ideas. “We actually looked back at all of the suggestions from the student body that were sent out [via google form] last spring. And a lot of those ideas were incorporated into [the week],” Dahlstrom said.

Other students and staff felt that although these dress up days were fun, each day didn’t come across as universal or respectful to everyone. Some believed there were other options that would make each and every student feel the inclusiveness of the school. “This is my 48th homecoming. I’ve gone through multiple dress up days and I think there could have been some more generalized themes. Like we’ve always had fun with the twins days and tropical days, which were very popular ones,” Jeremiah said.

On the contrary, teachers expressed that they enjoyed seeing most of the dress up days thoughtfully and well done. Although staff members had worries going into the week about how they would be executed, they liked what they saw. “I was pleasantly surprised that the students were respectful,” Cramer said.

Some of the dress-up days, such as Country Club vs. Country Western day, were seen to be targeting certain groups of students and people who weren’t properly portrayed. “Having grown up in rural Western cowboy culture, I still have my spurs at home. I didn’t see a lot of Western wear, I saw a lot of frat boy hats,” Cramer said.

The student council and planning faculty had good intentions and ideas for the week. The overall homecoming theme that was created was “A Knight in the Country.” The goal was to incorporate the big theme into one of the dress up days. The student council did this in a way where students could pick their own path to go in. “With country western vs. country club day we tried to do a cute play on words because the word country was in our theme for the week. The old country western versus the new country club, as if you’re going to play tennis or golf, was the idea we were trying to highlight,” Dahlstrom said.

Teachers loved seeing students have a good time as a whole and bonding with one another over this fun BSM tradition, while also teaching them life lessons. “I enjoyed seeing students have fun. I appreciate the opportunity to educate students about biases and division and ways we can include everybody,” Cramer said.

Dahlstrom says that in the future, deeper thought about how dress up days could be controversial, will go into the process of planning homecoming week. “Moving forward… we’ll talk about all the different, potentially harmful ways that people can see these [dress up days] …I want to make sure to be careful about the dress up days, so we don’t offend anybody,” Dahlstrom said.

The goal of homecoming week dress ups is to have the students be together in a lively environment leading up to the fun weekend ahead. “It’s still fun and original for students to dress up. And I want to make sure students are able to dress up in the future, but be very careful in the process,” Dahlstrom said.

Many other teachers are also looking forward to next year’s approach with more of an open mind. “Going forward Mr. Draughn has an equity committee that will be working with the student council to make sure that the dress-up day’s going forward are considered by all groups and individuals,” Cramer said.