By Gloria Ogunlade
To strangers onlooking this year’s Youth and Government (YAG) State Conference, it would seem to be very clear that YG delegates are young men and women with a purpose. One thing, though, may be unclear or difficult for an onlooker to determine: the dress code.
Youth and Government’s guidelines for business professional dress code include no denim, no midriffs or shoulders showing, proper footwear, and skirts that are no more than 3 inches above the knee for ladies. A majority of delegates at this year’s conference fit that category of business professional attire. However, with the definition of “uniform” being that everyone looks alike, with some students bending the protocol, it can be hard to really say what is right, wrong, fair and unfair when it comes to clothing.
When there are variations in student attire, it usually stems from variations in instruction. If all students are told the YG protocol but not all follow it, there is only one thing left to be questioned: advisor leniency.
“If I see a student out of dress code, I stop them and give them a fix so they can go up to their room and change. I try to do so as respectfully as I can,” director Jenna Struble said.
YAG teaches delegates not only how to speak in a political world, but also how to carry oneself in a professional setting. But like any good student, delegates must be taught first in order to follow rules.
“Students not abiding by the dress code says to me that there is some lack of supervision,” advisor Diane Williams said. “I think it starts with the advisors not adhering to the dress code that we’ve been provided. But it also kind of lowers the expectations and standards that have been sent to us by the YAG organization.”
Most adults have had real world experiences with following guidelines, whether or not it applies to dress regulations.
“It is good that students dress professionally because they are in a business place studying legislature,” State Capitol employee Marilena said. “But in life, it is definitely possible to break rules or at least go around them.”
Although some students slightly tweak appropriate clothing, is not always the intention of the student to appear unprofessional and many can relate to the feeling of just needing some a break sometimes.
“Sometimes when House and Senate get going for two or three hours or you’re running around, you just want to take your jacket off, but you can do it in the restroom or do it outside to always be respectful of the floor,” delegate Taylor Enslin said.
Many advisors agreed that students should still be able to convey their personality and sense of style while not breaking or bending any rules. Expression has never been an issue when it comes to YAG conferences.
“From seeing great floral blazers, to great ties, to great accessories I think there are still great ways to be expressive but within dress code,” Struble said. “Skirt length does not determine a person’s character but we dress to reflect real courtrooms and real House and Senate.”