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Schools up the vigil on low-rise bottoms

NEW DELHI: Schools across the city are finally drawing the line — around the waist. After years of ‘advising’ students against wearing low-rise
trousers and skirts to schools, at least one institution has begun wielding the stick. In what is probably the first action of its kind in Delhi, a class VIII student of Mount Carmel School, Anand Niketan, has been suspended for a month from July 29 for wearing his trousers way below the level of “decency”.

The school claimed that the student had continued to wear his “belt much below the waist” despite several warnings. V K Williams, principal of Mount Carmel, told TOI, “Dress code and language are two ways to ensure discipline in a school. How can we accept students in low-waist pants and skirts? It looks so ugly. This particular boy was warned 20 days back, but he disobeyed.”

Williams said other erring students were warned as well. “Their parents promised to make the children respect the school’s dress code,” he added.

The suspended student’s father, Rajiv Seth, however, claimed his son wasn’t given any warning. “Moreover, he was not wearing his belt low. In fact he was not wearing his belt at all that day.”

Low-waist trousers and skirts are a “problem” schools increasingly have to grapple with. Many have developed their own ways of dealing with it. For instance, Springdales School, Pusa Road, keeps a stock of nearly 100 long skirts for girls whose skirts are either too short or hang really low, while Amity International, Saket asks them to suggest their own designs for the uniforms.

Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal, Springdales School thanks her stars that the low-waist fashion is gradually fading away. However, the school has developed creative ideas to discourage students from wearing their uniform low. “I tell students who wear low trousers that they are completely out-of-sync with the trends. The latest fashion is to sport a short hairstyle with high-rise trousers. And, believe me, this has an effect as students want to appear up-to-date,” she says.

Wattal, however, says low-hanging skirts are the latest cause of worry. For girls whose skirts are not proper, the school has a stock of 100 extra ‘long’ skirts kept in the medical room. “The defaulters are sent to the medical room and made to wear those long skirts. Girls don’t like it and they come back to me promising to wear their own skirts properly,” Wattal says.

Amity, meanwhile, depends on their counsellors and students’ council for peer group motivation to respect the school uniform. Says principal Bharti Sharma, “We don’t take punitive measures. First, we give three warnings and then call the parents. But things are improving after we have asked the girls for their opinion while designing the school uniforms.”

Experts say students indulge in such fashion statements to get peer acceptance. According to Dr Jayanti Dutta, clinical psychologist, Delhi University, “It happens in colleges as well. The students primarily do this to get attention and acceptance. Parents either meekly intervene or ignore their children’s choice of clothes altogether.

Instead of taking punitive action against the students, speaking to them would solve a lot of problems.” Some principals too believe that students can be talked out of wearing such outfits. Says Ashutosh Batta, principal, Bloom Public School, Vasant Kunj, “Suspension is too strong a punishment. Instead, we counsel the students and make them understand that they should dress as per the occasion.”

However, it’s clear that as long as low-waist rules the fashion waves, it’ll be a source of embarrassment to school authorities. Says Anju Uppal, principal, Ryan International School, Vasant Kunj, “We are always on our toes to make sure students are properly dressed. We have started involving parents now and send them a circular every time their child is not wearing the uniform properly.”

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