Do Your Pants Hang Low?

April 14, 2008
By Meredith Rutland, Miami Shores, FL

On Thursday March 13th, a bill passed in Florida’s Senate that banned the wear of pants that droop below the beltline. Public schools will be required to enforce this rule with disciplinary action – including warnings and suspensions. MCDS already enforces a dress code, but Mr. Oronoz has his own standard for punishment. A standard which is more relaxed than Senate’s new bill (four warnings here might mean a detention or two; four warnings in public school means a 10 day suspension). According to the Miami Herald, Sen. Gary Siplin called this a “pro-family, pro-education, pro-employment bill”. Mr. Oronoz asserts that “pants are meant to fit nicely, no underwear should be shown” on campus. State legislature is trying to send a message to students that professional dress wear is necessary in a professional environment.

Many adults are apprehensive about this fad due to its origins. According to the New York Times, “the baggy pants, or saggin’, as it is called, originated with prisoners, who were not given belts, so their pants sagged. In addition, many hip-hop-inspired fashion labels […] began making strides in the marketplace and culture by designing [baggy] jeans”. MCDS’s guidance councilor, Dr. Vogel, asserts that this sort of teenage defiance is natural. “I think that kids will always find ways to irritate adults and find ways to irritate adults. In a way it’s healthy, but I don’t know if looking to prison inmates [as fashion trendsetters] is the best idea.” However, many teenagers attest that they are not following the trend due to its incarcerated origins, but rather, as Neill Riley asserts, “television, music, and music videos portray this type of look as accepted and mandatory to be cool. Like it says in the song "I'm so hood" by Dj Khaled, "I wear my pants below my waist." The history set aside, this fad is simply another in a long line of “cool” looks.

While only public schools are enforcing this rule for the time being, some people are worried it will carry to a ban on public streets. While this is still highly unlikely, it does raise the issue of rights. According to the first amendment, students have a right to freedom of expression, yet social rules sometimes overrule the nuances of the constitution. When questioned about this, both Mr. Oronoz and Dr. Vogel concurred that “there are social rules”, but they only should only take priority for a good reason

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