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To uniform or not to uniform: A closer look Marlborough’s new uniform policy

On my first day of kindergarten over 10 years ago, I ventured into the world of uniforms. Throughout my childhood I have transitioned from a navy-blue plaid jumper, to a plaid skirt, to Marlborough’s grey skirt and finally, my current black one. As someone who has worn a uniform my whole life, I was never a big fan of them, longing for the day that I could ditch my skirt and polo for sweatpants or jeans. I’m sure that many of you feel the same way. However, it wasn’t until this year, when Marlborough announced that the uniform will not be worn at all, that I realized my appreciation for them. In fact, it is now among the many things I realize I love about our school. I’ll admit, it’s possible that my change in heart is a result of the many hours I’ve spent perusing Pinterest, specifically the trend of pleated skirts and sweaters which happen to resemble our uniform. Yet in all seriousness, I feel that uniforms are overall beneficial to Marlborough’s learning environment.

As we continue virtual learning with no clear indication of when we will be able to return to school, Marlborough has decided to temporarily suspend the uniform policy. Instead of polos, skirts and jeans, students will dress in any comfortable clothing suitable for all of their daily activities. However, I believe that Marlborough should maintain the preexisting uniform policy this year and in future years because it is convenient, inclusive to all students, and fosters a sense of community within the school.

The majority of the Marlborough student body will be returning students, who already own a version of the uniform. Without it, many students will have unnecessary expenses that come from buying clothing for school. By eliminating the uniform, there could be a perceived “competition” between students regarding the appearance or price of their clothing. This could alienate students on scholarships and lower income families, detracting from Marlborough’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Furthermore, this could lead to unnecessary flaunting or demonstrations of wealth. I believe that students should be going to school with the focus on education, without superficial distractions like clothing.

Additionally, when students return to campus we will already be adjusting to earlier wake up times, so the extra few minutes it takes to choose an outfit is an avoidable burden. In previous years, I would roll out of bed, semi-conscious in the early morning, always relieved by the efficiency of the uniform. I appreciated the simplicity of my mornings because I was never worried about deciding on an adequately comfortable or appropriate outfit.

Lastly, having a schoolwide uniform provides a sense of identity and unity for all those who are a part of the Marlborough community. For example, it allows us to recognize each other off campus. Also, because the uniform is such a distinguished part of our identity as a school, it is something that parents and students likely consider when choosing to come to Marlborough. This drastic change to the policy with little forewarning is potentially disappointing to the students who had considered it in their decision. Currently we only have details about the uniform policy for this 2020-2021 school year, but it brings into question whether the uniform will be reinstated later or not. Although the uniform has evolved considerably over time, it has still been a part of Marlborough’s identity for over 100 years, and is a large part of our tradition as a school. it is still unclear when, or whether we will return to campus this year, but it is my hope that Marlborough’s uniform remains for the years to come.

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