Students petition to amend hat rule


Danielle Denman

Some confiscated hats in Mr. Kobs’ office


Recently, Sophomore John Van Ness has been petitioning students in hopes of lifting the current no-hat rule for GHS students.

Van Ness has more than 180 signatures. His goal is to collect 500 signatures to capture the attention of the administration. The 500 signature goal would represent 77% of the GHS population, which Van Ness believes will show that it is something the entire school cares about.

“My goal is 500 to prove that everyone wants this,” said Van Ness. “Not just me.”

The hat rule originally stems from a cultural practice of showing respect.  Students are expected to remove their hat to recognize they are in a public building, or learning environment. Wearing hats has also become a security issue, as the brim of a baseball cap could hide a person’s identity from a security camera.

Van Ness argues that there are many flaws involved in the current hat policy at GHS. Van Ness believes it is enforced by a small number of teachers coupled with administration, making it difficult for both the teacher and the student when administration enforces the rule.

“A lot of teachers think that it is stupid, and don’t enforce it,” said Van Ness. “Then, if an administrator walks in and sees me wearing a hat, the teacher gets talked to as well. When both the teacher and administrator know I’m going to wear my hat no matter what.”

GHS Dean of Students Chris Kobs agrees that the inconsistency of enforcement is the major issue regarding the dress code policy.

“One of the most difficult parts of enforcing the dress code in general is assuring that it is consistently enforced by the staff members,” said Kobs. “Those types of inconsistencies weaken the rule. It becomes the: “What’s the big deal?” Which starts combatants such as “Aren’t there real problems besides hats?” Are there? I have currently eight hats sitting in my office. Because I do enforce the rule, that is my job.”

Van Ness also believes that the rule is biased.

“It is also selectively enforced,” said Van Ness. “Girls wear hats all the time without penalty, but guys are constantly told to take them off.”

Gloucester’s O’Maley Innovation Middle School also recently lifted their no-hat rule for all students and all types of hats. Van Ness believes this is all the more reason to eliminate the hat rule at GHS.

“I think that change is a great thing, because it’s pressuring GHS to change even more. If the young kids can wear them, why can’t older kids who know better wear them too?”

Dean of Students Robert Galinelli says the O’Maley rule change shouldn’t affect incoming freshmen next year who will be expected to comply with the GHS rule.

“Expectations change, therefore students should be flexible and adaptable,” said Galinelli. “It is one of the skills we are trying to teach students.”

Van Ness believes a hat rule change would catalyze a variety of changes in GHS, and inspire students to advocate for their own beliefs.

“This is a small issue that should already be changed. By changing it, it can show others that larger issues can be changed too.”