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Natalie Roche

April 19, 2011


Writing 1133

Essay 2:
Uniform and Unified – Are they the Same as they Sound?
Process Note
Dear Reader,
The topic of my qualitative essay revolves around school uniforms, and what they mean to
students whether they have worn them before or not. However, there are multiple ways to go about
finding out and many questions to ask, so I put together an interview that I believe appropriately
addressed a variety of possible things to consider for the students (or past-students) interviewed. I plan
to not only use interviews from the fourteen students I gathered information from, but also the articles I
read from the experts on the importance of school uniforms, as well as comparing the use of school
uniforms to situations local to the Colorado area. I'm interested in seeing how people's opinions will
compare depending on their background with school uniforms, as well as their age group. This article is
intended for students to read, perhaps in particular those associated with school uniforms, as well as
teachers.
I myself have never worn a school uniform, but I was intrigued by the idea when I noticed that
many grade schools around the Colorado-Denver area use them in their academic settings. Though it's
no longer relative to our school life, it's possible that it is still relevant to our future and the lives of
generations after us, as well as perhaps our children. It's critical to have an opinion about any subject
that could possibly have an affect on your life, or on something that simply intrigues you. When writing
the questions, I did some research on what other people considered to be the most prominent pros and
cons of school uniforms before asking my subjects. This will allow me to delve deeper into the subject
in order to write a thorough, developed article.

Review of Literature
Because of the issues regarding individuality, costs, education, etc. revolving around whether or
not it is a good thing to use uniforms in an academic environment, I have clearly not been the first
person to question their use. I found three online articles which I believed were important and would
aid in my discussion on school uniforms, titled “Colorado School Uniform: Looking good and Smart”;
“School Uniforms, Dress Codes, and Book Bags”; and “School Uniforms and Safety”.. These written
compositions clearly address all possible positive and negative aspects of school uniforms; that way, I
avoid stating one opinion and I'm able to approach this issue on all sides.
The first article I read was “Colorado School Uniform: Looking good and Smart” by Elva
Vanhorne. She believes that our country will never be able to fully decide whether school uniforms are
beneficial or not; however, she argues that they are a respectable thing to have in schools, and students
simply don't appreciate them because they don't like how they look when wearing them. Vanhorne is
one of the people that believes kids will be distracted in classes if they're allowed to wear whatever
they want to. She discusses ways students can accessorize to be more original, expressing themselves
while still following the rules. In her conclusion, she states that “schooling is not all about looking
good but mostly about getting the best education you can ever ask for”. I thought this article would
better my paper because my data revolves around the interviews from students, and it would be
necessary to compare the results and opinions of people of different ages and social positions.
The next article, titled “School Uniforms, Dress Codes, and Book Bags”, focused more around
improvement in the educational environment and safety of school uniforms as opposed to individuality
and style. The exposition also discusses the equality that comes with wearing a school uniform, that
children will be less likely to make remarks on difference in wealth/social status based on another's
clothing if everyone is dressed in the same or a similar fashion. It states that school uniforms are
important because the establishment can easily distinguish between a student and a possible intruder. I
believe this perspective would be good to bring up in my paper, especially revolving around the
Colorado Columbine shootings, because it was a local issue and is a very important point to bring up
that not everyone considers when it comes to uniforms.
The third article, “School Uniforms and Safety” by M. Sue Stanley, took a different approach
from the other two but with a similar basis. It also brought up the issues behind being an individual and
still wearing a uniform, as well as safety, but mostly discussed the importance of putting a student in a
complete learning environment. The uniform distinguishes a student from their home life and social
life. As stated in the article, “it defines group boundaries, promotes group goals, and reduces role
conflict”. Basically, by dressing similarly, everyone is working towards one cause, and wearing a
uniform promotes equality in all aspects. I believe that these three articles demonstrate decent but
differing points that will really help me express a multitude of opinions from other people throughout
my qualitative essay.

Introduction
“uniform, adj: identical or consistent; without variations in detail; constant, unvarying,
undeviating...” This is the standard dictionary definition of the word “uniform” as an adjective.
However, you may fail not to notice, it shares the very same word as the noun definition, which is
“uniform, noun: an identifying outfit or style of dress worn by the members of a given profession,
organization, or rank”. So, knowing that this one word shares these two definitions, how would one
forced to wear a uniform in school feel about this? Specifically, how do school students such as
yourself feel as individuals about school uniforms, whether they are forced to wear them in an
academic environment, or not, but have seen others doing so? My interest was to compare the values
of the students to the values of those enforcing the rules to see how their feelings compared in all
aspects of the situation regarding school uniforms, how they differed and how they were similar, and
why this might be. In my paper, I will discuss the opinions of both students and adults out of school
through my interviews with my fellow peers and articles written by these adults.

Method
I was interested in seeing how students felt their freedoms were limited (or not) simply by being
forced to wear certain attire in school, and to conduct my research I assembled a list of fifteen
questions based off of this main idea asking students about almost every aspect of their lives that could
possibly be hindered by wearing or not wearing a uniform. The questions I asked were open to opinion
and did not express any of my biases; also, no research was necessary for answering these questions.
Fourteen of these people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two responded. Three of them were
male and the rest were female. Five students total had worn a school uniform in their lives: four girls,
and one boy. All of my respondents were caucasian, and asked to answer using full sentences, without
just saying “yes” or “no”. Eight of the people I interviewed were in college, three were out of school,
and the rest were on the last year of high school, though none of them were currently in a position
where they were wearing a uniform. The one male, Anthony, had worn it throughout middle school and
high school, two of the girls had worn them from kindergarten through eighth grade, and the last two
for only a few years of their life. The rest of the people I interviewed that had never worn a uniform
were simply speculating what it would be like to wear one if they did, using their own school
experiences without being forced into a uniform to make their opinions. After receiving the fourteen
responses, I divided my research between these two separate groups and compared their answers
together, as well as to examples of experts who enforced wearing a school uniform, to determine the
overall feelings of the public about this issue through multiple different sources. These sources were
from professional viewpoints, based off of the ideas of school safety and the importance of school
uniforms, as stated above. I wasn't entirely sure what my results would look like, but my broad
speculation was that more students would be opposed to school uniforms because they would be the
ones wearing them, and adults would be more likely to consider their importance. I sent out my
questions by email and personally discussed certain answers with a few of these people, though these
interviewees were not only residents of Colorado or students of the University of Denver, so for some
of them the best contact I had was through email and phone conversations. In the next result's section, I
will discuss some of the answers I received after the interviews were completed and returned to me,
through overall summarizing as well as pointing out specific details in the responses, to properly
address my results as they are before comparing them to the ideas of the experts.

Results
Upon having the questionnaires returned to me, I rearranged the results by whether or not the
people interviewed had worn a uniform, then compared the results and wrote a summarized response
for each question of the obtained information. The first statement the participants were asked to answer
was what their initial feelings of school uniforms were (this was also asked of them again as the very
last question). For the people who had never worn school uniforms, there was an abundance of
answers revolving around indifference, supporting, not supporting, sometimes supporting, etc. The
people who had worn them before were similar in the sense that there were a lot of differing answers.
In both groups, some people said they limit individuality and some people said they're easier than
planning your outfit every morning. Kate, in the non-uniform group, and Emily in the opposite, both
agreed that they “would wear them if they were cute”, a point I plan on going into further in the
discussion section. However, almost everyone's response was opinion-based, and no one seemed to
very strongly support one side of the argument.
I next asked the group if they believed that kids wearing a school uniform are more likely to take
their classes seriously. In the end, nobody said “yes” for the first group and only one person agreed that
wearing a uniform benefited their academic experience because uniforms are less distracting, stating
“Yes. Coming from Catholic grade school with uniforms to a public high school without them, I think
uniforms are less distracting to others and to yourself”. However, most people said that they either have
no effect on them when wearing them or they think it's silly to believe that clothing would affect your
attitude. Also, a few said that it is the student's overall mentality which will have them do well in
school, not the way that they dress. I believe this is a valid question to ask because none of them have
worn school uniforms for all of their lives, and this could easily shape their responses. I later also asked
the students if they thought wearing a uniform would keep them more focused in their studies. In the
first group, again, there were varying answers. Some people agreed that students would still rebel
against the dress code and be distracted by this, or find something else to be distracted with in general.
However, some also said that without paying attention to what other people are wearing and being in a
group of people where they all look the same, then there would be less to draw away their attention.
The second group who did wear uniforms ultimately said that the level of the distraction lies in the
individual and not their clothing. However, one of the girls did say if they did not like the uniform or if
it wasn't their style of preference, they would be distracted because it was annoying to them: “if I had
to wear a skirt, I’d be worrying about it being to short, and having to cross my legs together, instead of
my studies” So, for some people, wearing a school uniform, depending on what it was like, would still
be a nuisance to them.
My fourth question asked students if/how they believed wearing a uniform affects discipline and
misconduct in the classroom. The most common answer I saw in the first group was that children
would be even more apt to rebelling against the dress code because it was so strict; though some did
still say that there was a possibility that misconduct would be lowered, most agreed that it would
actually be heightened. In the group of people who had worn school uniforms, the most common
answer was that uniforms didn't have any impact or little impact on discipline, though the one male
student said that it actually lowered misconduct substantially, though this could also be because he
started wearing them after elementary school, and school rules are enforced more strictly after that
point because students are older and expected to be more mature.
Another important factor I wanted to address was how much my peers believed school uniforms
have to do with the “real world” and how wearing them in school will affect them with future
employment. I thought this was another crucial question to ask because it really plays into the overall
importance of school uniforms, since the reason for schooling is to help you make it in life in the first
place. For the first group, again, the answers varied. Half stated that wearing a school uniform teaches
you that depending on your profession and your situation that you need to change the way you dress.
However, the other half said that by wearing a uniform, you will miss out on learning different clothing
fashions and finding your own style, or just said that uniforms and the real world were not closely
related. The second group was also split similarly. Half said that uniforms will help you learn how to
dress appropriately for future jobs, the other half said that they felt that their individualism was stifled
and seems almost pointless to wear a uniform when comparing it to your life after school. People were
both demonstrating thinking of themselves during the time period they would have to wear them as
well as for the future, but were still split between their importance and didn't have one definite answer.
Later on, I addressed the issue of social equality and how that could possibly be affected by
wearing or not wearing a school uniform. This is a factor I noticed was questioned in the articles, but I
wasn't sure how thoroughly students considered it. Their answers were not entirely what I had
expected. The first group had very interesting responses for the question posed. Many said that by
having everyone dress the same, one no longer thinks about who has how much money and different
social classes as much because you all are dressed the same. However, one person also said that even if
you all look the same, people will result to comparing the next closest thing – who looks best and can
pull off the school uniform. In the group of people who did wear uniforms, the majority said that
wearing the uniform makes you think about clothing less and makes you feel a sense of equality.
However, the one boy in this group stated that despite the uniforms, that doesn't mean certain cliques
and popular groups will be eliminated. According to those interviewed, either way, some form of
judgment and social hierarchy will still exist.
This next question I asked because I also wasn't sure how much students though about the cost of
school uniforms and how this cost affected their families. The majority of the first group stated that
uniforms can be costly and would have a negative affect when it came to prices. However, a few people
stated that uniforms are less expensive when compared to how much clothing you have to buy to fit
yourself for the rest of the year without thinking of wearing the same thing each day. The second
group's answers varied on their own experiences: one person stated that their uniform was pretty
expensive, two others stated that it wasn't so bad in comparison to how much you would have to buy if
you were fitting yourself for a year, and the other two stated that it doesn't matter, it depends on how
much you yourself like to spend on clothing.
School spirit is another category to take into account when you consider school uniforms, and I
asked the interviewees how they compared the two. Here came a lot more interesting and surprising
answers. Some people said yes, it does promote school spirit, and strengthens the student body because
everyday you are always representing your school. However, Jennifer, a female student in the non-
uniform group, made an interesting point that in order to feel the school spirit from wearing the
uniform, you must already have positive feelings for the school and what you associate the uniform
with. She stated that
“It is possible that in a similar sense to the uniforms worn by teams in school sports and that sense of
team spirit may be similar or the same of students who are in uniform for their school. But the sense of
loyalty and school spirit shown and felt by athletes is different and does not come only from the
uniform, but from the feeling they have of what the uniform represents, their team, and their working
efforts together as a team. So in order for similar feelings to be expressed by all students, they must
perceive the uniform as representative of school spirit and loyalty; the uniform cannot represent these
things on its own.”

Others agreed, saying being forced to wear this uniform might makes you dislike school even more. In
the second group, through experience, they stated it makes you feel a little more loyal, but it also
depends on the person. They basically explained that a student's overall personality and emotional
attachment to their school aren't going to change just because of what they wear.
Then came a bigger question in my article: “How do you think wearing a uniform affects a
student's sense of self, individuality and values?” Here is where stronger feels of assurance and
negativity sprouted. In the first group, half of the people stated that they believed there would be an
impact – that the students would lose some of their identity, and not be able to express themselves,
which is believed to be a crucial part of growing up. Others stated it wouldn't have much impact. An
interesting point from Jennifer was that a student won't feel like they've lost some of their identity
because there are other ways they can display it – through their personalities and actions in their
community. In the second group, each person had a different answer. The first person, Anthony, said it
varies between people. The second, Bridget, compared it to communism, whether joking or not,
because you feel like more of a unit than an individual. The third, Emily, stated that the child will learn
to follow the crowd and not learn what it means to be themselves (however, in my opinion, we're all
following the crowd in some way anyways just by wearing clothes). The fourth agreed with the person
in the first grouping, stating that there are other ways to express yourself in society. The last person,
Mary, stated that it didn't affect them, that your personality may shine through even more because
people aren't just looking at your clothes. This one question seemed to spark the greatest multitude of
responses.
One of the last questions I asked this group was “Do you believe all schools should have school
uniforms, some schools, or none? What are the criteria for those where a uniform should or shouldn't
exist?”. The people of the first section varied, again, though most stated that it did have an effect on
their freedom of expression, but then not much. It is the school's choice and the parent's choice to send
their child there, so it is still left up to the families. However, not many people seemed to answer the
questions head-on but thought of it more as an individual choice. The second group also had many
varying answers. One person stated that as long as it doesn't hurt the child's education then uniforms
are fine (however, it's difficult to say what specifies that). Others said it hurts a child's individuality. In
the last group, Mary was specific in saying that 1. grade schools should have them but older kids
should be able to make that choice, and 2. they should not be gender-restricted, something I will also
go into more in the discussion section. I finally asked them what their ideal dress-code would be in
school. The answers from the first group seemed to be what most schools without uniforms follow –
without a specific uniform or a very strict dress code. Abby, a girl in the first group, stated “Nothing too
revealing (for both boys AND girls). Nothing that contains offensive statements. Otherwise, I don't see
many other boundaries.” However, another girl in the first group said “Clothing that is professional and
that would be appropriate to wear to a job interview or a business meeting or other such real world
uses”. The second group exhibited similar responses; however, one person stated that they would
continue to keep uniforms in school and have occasional days were uniforms were not worn to give the
students a break.
By the end of the interview, I re-asked the students what they now thought of school uniforms
after being asked these questions. Most people had kept their original positions, which mostly came off
as “indifferent”, whether specifically stated or shown through their word-choice, and then the interview
was finished.

Discussion
From these interview questions and answers, we can determime a lot of things about student's
feelings for school uniforms. Mostly it seems like there are negative connotations associated with
school uniforms, which could easily also result in the lack of wearing them at this current time and also
the appreciation of individuality. As stated before, the questions asking how a school uniform affected
your sense of self sparked the most opinion. People remember wanting their individuality respected
through dress throughout high school, and probably even now in life. Since all participants have
experienced going to a school wear a uniform wasn't required, their preference is being able to dress
the way that they like to. Though they reflected that there are some positives to wearing a school
uniform, overall, to them, it seems stifling. But how do the experts, the adults, and the articles compare
when asked the same questions? One main aspect was that in the professional articles, the adults stated
that the safety that comes with school uniforms is the most important piece, and “the pros of having
uniforms in schools are definitely higher than the cons, but the students will continue to go against the
idea as far as it doesn't make them feel good”. This was a point that I really did notice – throughout all
the interviews, nobody said one word about safety – the main topics were the issues of respecting
individuality and dress unique to a student. Two female students even said, as stated before, “if the
uniform was cute I wouldn't mind wearing it”. People naturally like wearing clothing that makes their
body look good – and if the uniform is going to do that, then all the better – if not, they suddenly lose
all interest. Not to mention, school uniforms in the media are depicted in a stylish way, showing
students what makes a uniform a fashion statement. However, judging from answers like “adolescence
is the time in your life where finding your sense of individuality is crucial”, perhaps it's not that young
students don't realize the importance of safety but that they're thinking more of what was vital to the
lives of their younger selves. When it came to recognizing individuality for the professionals, National
School Safety and Security Services stated “Do dress code and uniforms violate freedom of expression
opportunities? We think that this argument is quite weak. Students are free to dress as they and their
parents like during non-school hours. They also need to realize that dress codes and uniforms are a
reality of the workplace in the adult world...”. This quote also brings us back to the idea of gender-
restriction when it comes to dress codes. One girl stated previously that it's not fair for girls to have to
wear skirts. However, then we also must consider, should men be forced to wear pants? This suddenly
becomes an issue of not just being a school dress-code issue but a social dress-code in general. Thus, it
doesn't come down to a negative impact on females but the overall dress-code life presents us with.
Now, let's go back to the idea of safety in wearing a school uniform. As I've said, the idea of a
school uniform keeping children safe was hardly brought up among the students I interviewed, but
plays a large role in the articles I read written by the experts. While students focused on having their
individuality respected, the adults encouraged students to put that aside for the sake of their safety and
education. A good example of how uniforms keep kids safe is the Colorado Columbine massacre,
where two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, planted a bomb outside of their school cafeteria
(which did not go off), and also shot 21 students before shooting themselves. Obviously there is enough
to say about their actions, but specifically for this essay, the boys were supposedly wearing trench coats
and carrying large bags to conceal their weapons. Since there was not a strict dresscode, it was difficult
for the school to detect an outsider because the students were allowed to wear the clothing they desired.
When a school uses a uniform, such activity is very clearly noticeable, since gender, race, and age
alone don't cut it – clothing does. Living in the United States, and growing up in friendly, safe
neighborhoods thankfully makes individuality a more important and daily part of our lives as opposed
to threats such as this, and perhaps that's why it isn't as strongly considered. However, just because a
point isn't considered by the opposite group doesn't label that point as unimportant.
So, when it comes down to wearing a school uniform, there are pros and cons that differ
depending on the person, and it's up to you to decide what you own beliefs on the matter are. Overall,
it's interesting and intriguing to see how the multiple sides varied when it came to the use of school
uniforms and the opinions of individuals, even if it means a verdict can never fully be agreed upon.

Appendix
1. First of all, when you were in school, did you ever have to wear a school uniform?
2. Before asking any further questions, what are your feelings now about school uniforms?
3. Do you think kids wearing a school uniform are more likely to take their classes seriously? (These
are all opinion-based questions and your answers result only from previous knowledge – no research is
necessary)
4. How do you think wearing a uniform affects discipline and misconduct?
5. Do you think uniforms keep students more or less focused on their studies?
6. What do you think school uniforms have to do with the “real world”?
7. How do they affect social equality?
8. How do school uniforms affect loyalty and school spirit?
9. How do you think wearing a uniform affects a student's sense of self, individuality and values?
10. How does it affect money and costs?
11. Ultimately, how much of a relationships does wearing a uniform have to academics?
12. How do you think having a school uniform affects the rights of parents and their children?
13. Do you believe all schools should have schools uniforms, some schools, or none? What are the
criteria for those where a uniform should or shouldn't exist?
14. What do you believe an ideal dress code for school is?
15. Finally, what are your feelings, at the end of this interview, about schools uniforms?

Westin Underberger - Peer Response


The research question you came up with is "Are peoples loves for certain sports teams a direct
result of where they have lived/grown up, and how does this affect the way people feel about their
home town/other cities?". You can tell what you are asking, but I think you have to be more descriptive
and discuss The Lakers specifically in your statement since this is the team you're really inquiring
about. You probably also want to go beyond saying "love" and saying people's hatred or biases in
regards to their location. Since you're starting off broad and getting more detailed as you acquire
information and present it to the reader, it would be likely encouraged in your research question.
When it comes to your method, this is where you need to go into further detail. The order of your
paper will go as follows: process note, introduction, method, results, and discussion; and I believe it's
pretty important to have them in that ore. In the method, you're simply explaining how you gathered the
information before comparing it to the facts gleaned in the articles. I noticed you started off comparing
your results with the articles before stating how you collected the data and without a detailed
explanation of your findings, though maybe you still need to write some more and put the paragraphs in
order. Also, be sure to keep your own opinions from spoiling your results before the discussion (which
you generally do a good job of already). Your wording and transitions are nice and it doesn't sound
choppy or awkward when reading it. However, you could still use some more detail in your explanation
to fill up your paragraphs. Your discussion of method isn't very clear, and your results and discussion
section needs some more detail. Perhaps go further into individual responses, and make comparisons to
other real-life situations or sports teams to explain why people might be exhibiting these responses.
There is a conclusion, but it still comes across as sort of abrupt and without much basis because
we still need more information from your other sections. You went into great detail about certain
points, like when you discussed where the hatred for the LA Lakers came from, especially when it
came to quoting sources. If you keep your explanations and consistency up throughout each section of
the paper, I think you'll have a steady, well-written final draft.
You have about two paragraphs on your results, but still need to go into more detail. One thing
that's really important, which you started to do but still need more explanation of, is explaining the
relationship between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics. I'm assuming the majority of people who you
aim your paper at are sports fans and will understand better than I do the rivalries and interactions
between different teams, but it's still a good idea to back up your points with evidence and explanation
whenever you can. You could also be more specific about your discussion section and make more
comparisons to the Lakers and why people might form these opinions. For example, people also have a
tendency to dislike singers, like Justin Beiber, for being so insanely popular when they themselves don't
appreciate whatever they do.
I might be curious to see how other sports teams and regions compare. It's also important to
discuss more about the opinions of the people of Denver or the Colorado area so it links back to the
basis of this class more. You do, however, do a good job of stating what your paper is going to be about
in the introduction. As long as you can go into more detail about your points and write a conclusion
exhibiting your reasoning, then your paper will be a more thorough and completed draft.
The audience, to me, seems like it would be other sports fans, which is still a large population of
people. Not that this is a bad thing, I just think that these people are the ones who are the most likely to
take interest in your results.
I did not see your process note in the paper, though I think your introduction does a decent job of
stating your point. Just be sure to put it in the final draft of your paper, as well as any other missing
sections. Make sure you read the guidelines and know how the paper is supposed to be organized.

Works Cited
1. “Colorado School Uniform: Looking good and Smart”, Elva Vanhorne.
www.militaryschooloptions.com: MSO. March 6, 2011. Web. 26 April 2011
<http://militaryschooloptions.com/blog/1217/colorado-school-uniform-looking-good-and-smart/>
2. “School Uniforms, Dress Codes, and Book Bags” www.schoolsecurity.org: National School
Safety and Security Services. Web. 26 April 2011.
<http://www.schoolsecurity.org/resources/uniforms.html>
3. “School Uniforms and Safety”, M. Sue Stanley. www.sagepub.org: SAGE Education and
Urban Society. 1996. Web. 26 April 2011.
<http://eus.sagepub.com/content/28/4/424.full.pdf>
4. “Individuality vs. Conformity: The Issue Behind School Uniforms”, Peter Caruso.
www.sagepub.org: SAGE Education and Urban Society. September 1999. Web. 26 April 2011.
<http://bul.sagepub.com/content/80/581/83.full.pdf+html>

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