The Stepnowsky Administration: Dress Code Changes for the School Year


Ben Zangas '23

Coming back to St. Ed’s after the summer has brought the school community new faculty and schedules, but perhaps most notably, new dress code regulations. The new principal of St. Edward High School is former Dean of Academics, Matt Stepnowsky; someone who had built a reputation for being down-to-earth and building strong relationships with students. He is also known for his desire to “uproot the American education system”, in his own words. That being said, the new dress code policy raises questions for some students, especially coming from Mr. Step. 

The uniform requirements for this year are relatively similar from last year and share aspects from dress codes in the past. They include: dress pants, a belt, socks, a St. Edward branded polo shirt or oxford shirt, and dress shoes or solid color sneakers. While all of these articles could be seen sported by the student body throughout parts of 2019 until now, 2022, some changes have been made in policy towards sweatshirts and hoodies. This year, the only outerwear students are permitted to wear are either unbranded or St. Edward branded quarter zip, cardigan and crewneck sweaters. This removes any form of hooded sweatshirts and college branded clothing as well, which were a staple in the dress code which had been at St. Ed’s longer than the senior class had been until this year. One student said that he believes that the seniors losing the privilege of wearing college sweatshirts is “unfair”. 

Some students critical of the changes have brought up the limited amount of wearable outerwear in the bookstore with the reduction of the hoodie. Mazen Monnette believes that, “it would be beneficial if we opened it up to St. Edward-branded hoodies, as there are not that many unhooded options in the Green and Gold Store”. There are very few crewneck sweatshirts available for purchase in the bookstore compared to St. Ed’s hoodies, as some students have noticed.

 A student regarded for his vintage and college sweatshirt repertoire, Brendan Litten states that, “I’m not happy about no sweaters that don’t have [a St. Ed’s logo] on them, because I’m a big sweater guy, I would always wear sweaters every week, so that’s pretty disappointing. And I still think that looks pretty formal, too, so I don’t see what the issue is”. 

A reason for the change could be that the administration is trying to reduce wealth disparity between students, seeing as how someone could wear a Nike sweatshirt versus a sweatshirt from Walmart. Senior Andrew Haas points out that, “ultimately, you can’t hide the wealth disparities of some students in schools because some students show up in sports cars”. At a school as financially diverse as St. Ed’s, making appearance uniform is near impossible. But while the reduction in sweatshirt apparel has limited what students can wear, it does bring a more unified appearance to the student body within the building, which is desirable to the St. Edward administration, and more favorable to the school’s reputation. Additionally, more revenue could be made towards the school because of the new dress code; money which could benefit all students, regardless of their opinions of the dress code.

In a similar manner to the sweatshirt debate, the newer hair policy is also raising alarms to many students. In the past two years, the hair policy, which was at one point limited to must being above the collar, ears and eyes was lessened, and students could get away with wearing longer and more free-flowing styles of hair. While these eased tensions began out of the early Covid era, where students were not expected to go to barbers and hair stylists to get haircuts, now that the world has become more adjusted to Covid-19, the policy has returned to being, “above the collar in the back and above the eyes in the front”, in the words of Mr. Stepnowsky from email. Many students have grown accustomed to having longer hair, and were sad to have it go for what some seem to be a trivial reason. Additionally, in a world where many schools have altered hair length restrictions to be more culturally inclusive and contemporary, our school is sticking to policies that have not changed much from the original appearance code in 1949. While many thought that the school would be adopting a more modern dress code with a new principal and president, in some ways this expectation was not brought into the appearance canon. That being said, even students themselves, like Senior Monnette, someone who wears hair on the longer side, says, “the hair length [rule] is fair. A lot of times, we look a little sloppy”. As painful and as antiquated as it may be, the hair policy this school year can make the cleanliness and diligence of student appearances be more consistently neat.

In response to some of the grievances some students have to the new dress code, Stepnowsky says that, “A dress code represents you are a part of something, that you buy into something bigger than yourself, and that you are proud to represent your community”, and that “Lack of structure can make us feel unmotivated and distracted”. The main motivation behind the changes would be to stabilize a more consistent uniform across the student body. Additionally, as much as it may be an inconvenience for students to take up the new code, it could be in their benefit. The uniform proves to outsiders that the St. Ed’s community is strong, especially for having such a positive and storied reputation. The principal has reached out to Edsman to say that he is open to talk to students about any issues they may have with the uniform or any other aspect of student life, and left his interview with this: 


Think about everything our students are involved in outside the classroom. Football and soccer uniforms aren’t upsetting. Band uniforms aren’t problematic. A wardrobe for musicals or plays isn’t troublesome. We talk about the brotherhood we have at St. Edward and a dress code is a visual representation of that bond we share. Rugby shorts might be a little upsetting, but not because they are uniform.


Stepnowsky states that “The energy feels good”, as students are returning to St. Ed’s, and is excited to bring in the new school year on a positive and empowering note. 

While the strictures on hair and sweatshirts may be in effect, the other additions to the dress code bring security to more relaxed clothing, day to day. If anything, this protects having the choice to wear a tie, and students being able to express themselves more through their footwear. While the hair and sweatshirts may be a pain for some students, it may be a small price to pay in the name of having a more comfortable appearance that is here to stay, at least for this year. And as some students agree, at least in some part, to the new alterations, these changes may not be as drastic or unreasonable as they could be perceived. All in all, while students are returning to the school this year with a new dress code, they are coming back to the same loving community and brotherhood that both the St. Edward administration and student body are proud to call their home.



  • Testimonials
    • Principal Matthew Stepnowsky
    • Brendan Litten ‘23
    • Andrew Haas ‘23
    • Mazen Monnette ‘23