Excessive? According to Who?
by Beth Deleon
February 25, 2011
If you’ve read the News Leader lately, you’ve probably seen the story about Willard High School junior, Justin Lancaster.
When first seeing pictures of Lancaster the one thing didn’t spring to my mind was “Man that kid’s hair is distracting.” Apparently though that’s exactly what Willard administrators thought when they say it.
School officials first argued that Lancaster’s hair was a mohawk, but then simply said that his hair was “excessive.”
Lancaster was asked to shave his head to an appropriate style by Monday or he would receive in-school suspension. Lancaster refused to alter his hair and received two days in-school suspension before being allowed to resume his classes on Wednesday.
After reading this story I couldn’t help but feel that this rule of “excessive hair” was rather flawed. I believe a school has the right make rules and enforce them; a school couldn’t function without them. The problem comes when a school doesn’t have the ability to enforce the rules that they put in place.
If Willard insists on regulating students' hair they need to provide students with more guidelines than, to avoid anything “excessive”. Just like a dress code, it appears that Willard now needs a hair code. Administrators must make it clear what is and isn’t allowed before they should be allowed to punish a student. Students can not be punished for something they were not told wasn’t acceptable. It also isn’t fair to make students guess what is or isn’t “excessive”.
Another problem I have with Willard’s “excessive hair” rule is who decides what is excessive? What one person may find outrageous and completely unacceptable may be completely normal for someone else. There are so many questions that could be asked about what is and isn’t “excessive”. Are mohawks allowed or not? If so what is considered a mohawk? Is dying your hair acceptable? If it’s ok to dye it brown, would it be unacceptable to color it blue or pink? Are certain hair cuts or styles gender specific? Does a boy have to keep his hair shorter than a certain length? On the contrary would a girl be allowed to shave her head if she wished? Could I wear a small stuffed animal in my hair as an accessory if I felt the need?
This all goes back to my point that if Willard is going to insist on encroaching on students' rights, the least they could do would be to tell them what they are and aren’t allowed to do.
Thinking about the problems a simple haircut caused at Willard, I honestly am glad that I go to a relatively accepting and tolerant school like Marshfield.