I can't help thinking the students at Auckland's Rangitoto College whining about the type of mufti they get to wear are being a bit precious.

I mean let's start with the facts: they're allowed to wear mufti. They're already luckier than most high schoolers in their final year.

And they're a damn sight luckier than the students who have to cut their hair short, shave, and cover up tattoos.


Year 13 students can ditch the uniform for their final year and wear "smart casual workplace attire". That's how the school describes it, and that seems a pretty fair and clear description of a dress code to me.

In fact it goes so far as to explain further: "Not dressed for a day at the beach".

Okay, crystal clear.

But despite that, students are turning up in ripped jeans, low cut tops and yoga tights.

So who is to blame here for a flouted dress code? Well, both parties actually in my view.

Because if you know anything about teenagers you know that give them an inch, they'll take a mile.

If Rangitoto College wanted students dressed appropriately or to their standards, then maybe they should have left a uniform policy in place.

The students say they're being discriminated against, that their clothes are being sexualised, and they signed a petition rebelling against the dress code. About 800 of the more than 3000 students signed it. They claimed male students could wear ripped jeans but female ones couldn't.


Look, I'm no hater of the ripped jean. I can't afford to be, given it's literally all my husband owns, and I'd argue a ripped jean is pretty commonplace these days. But the rules are set by the school and it's their right to make and enforce them.

And I'd say it would depend less on the gender of the person wearing them and more on the type of ripped jeans. I mean there are rips, and then there are rips.

Just as a school can argue it wants a student's hair shorter, despite their teacher having a mullet, a school also has the right to defend its dress code.

The school's rejected student suggestions the dress code's being tightened due to teachers being distracted by the type of clothing, and it's said it admires the students' social conscience. And who doesn't admire social conscience?

But we are running a fine line these days between students being "socially conscious" and students just flouting rules and looking for an argument to wrap around it as justification.

If a school has a dress code, and you agree to attend that school, you're agreeing to the terms.

It's how basic contracts work.

If I was a student at Rangitoto I'd be grateful for the fact I didn't have to wear a uniform, and cut my hair short, rather than getting rarked up over ripped jeans.