Sixth Formers stood up, shouting and yelling at their dean of students. There wasn’t a happy face in that form meeting—the student fan section had just lost the opportunity to wear cut-off jeans and white tank tops.
“I think that it’s just a lazy attempt to change the school,” Sixth Former Joe Pariano said.
A tradition that had been in place for several years, wearing jeans cut into the style of shorts along with a white tank top was unique to the Fords and brought a certain presence to crucial sporting events—a presence that some took issue with.
“The jorts theme, in particular, is, either intentionally or unintentionally, mocking a specific group of people,” Dean of Students Mr. Luqman Kolade said. “Anything that mocks a specific group of people is problematic and something that we don’t want the school to be associated with.”
Upper School President Luka Sekulić acknowledges the issues that some of the administration may have.
“I know that a lot of the teachers and faculty believe that Haverford School boys are mocking people of lower-income households when it comes to wearing cutoff jeans and [white tank tops],” Sekulić said.
According to Mr. Kolade, there have been dress-related incidents in the past that have been problematic.
“A couple [of] years ago it would be a dress-down day and we had kids in the halls in jorts, and they would be inappropriately cut, so short that you could see kids’ underwear. This made some people very uncomfortable.”
While some may be offended by it, students claim their intention is not to offend.
“For a lack of a better term, it’s boys being boys,” Pariano said. “I think that the administration kind of reads into outfits and masks. We don’t really mean anything by it, it’s just something that we can all do together and it’s tradition.”
However, “boys being boys,” may not always be a good thing, an idea that the English department tries to instill in Third Form.
“One of the books everyone reads their third form year is the Lord of the Flies, and in the Lord of the Flies, when the characters paint their faces, they then do things that they wouldn’t normally do,” Mr. Kolade said, referring to the additional ban of face coverings. “It’s the act of being anonymous… and it’s the same with the ski masks at games. It provides a false sense of anonymity that can make people behave in a way that they normally would not.”
Much of the anger that the student body has with Mr. Kolade is misplaced, as he was not the one who made the decision.
“I don’t think that [Mr.] Kolade was the person saying that he didn’t like it, and it probably sucked for him having to tell the student body that they couldn’t do it anymore,” Pariano said. “I think that there are bigger issues and things that we need to address in this school, and taking away from something we do really well, like being in the student section and truly supporting people, is not the right move. If we lose that then I think we are in a really scary place.”
“I get where the outrage comes from, but I think it’s misplaced.”Mr. kolade
The hope of much of the student body is that this is not a final decision but something that the administration may be willing to discuss further.
“I think that there will be a continued argument. I’m not sure if it will change anything, but I know for myself and some of my classmates that we still want to carry on this tradition of the [white tank tops] and the jorts,” Sixth Former Z Nekoumand said.
Sekulić is doing his best to achieve these wishes.
“Alongside other members of the senior community, we are trying to come to a compromise with the school.”
Despite the work of Sekulić and other Sixth Form leaders, many students are still upset with the situation.
“I get where the outrage comes from, but I think it’s misplaced,” Mr. Kolade said. “I think that at the end of the day, people are not going to be that mad and kids will get over it. I don’t think it’s worth sympathy because I don’t think it’s that important, like brotherhood and all those ideals we talk about are more important… I’m not sympathetic, but I understand why kids are upset.”
For some, this is another piece of problematic decision-making from the administration.
“In the last four years, with the 2023 class leading the underclassman out of COVID, [the administration] kinda just keep picking away at the Haverford student experience, making it worse, little by little,” Pariano said.
Others just want the administration to understand the students’ point of view.
“My hope is that they’ll see the high school perspective of us just wanting to look crazy, wanting to have fun at basketball games or any other sporting event,” Nekoumand said.
One thing is certain:
“The student body is not happy with the decision that has been made,” Sekulić said.
With policies that affect the student life constantly changing, it is difficult for students to acclimate to a certain type of schooling experience.
From a different schedule every year for the Sixth Formers to the removal of certain themes from the fan section that help define the school, some would say that the first thing that the school could do is tell its students why things are shifting. Others think Mr. Kolade has already explained the thinking behind the change.
“We still haven’t really heard why all this is happening,” Pariano said.