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The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

Pajama-wearing debate raises equity concerns

Photo Credit: Joseph Torres
Pajamas, comfy, warm, and desired. Should pajamas be worn in school?

Pajamas are comfortable, cozy and possibly our favorite outfit to wear. But is there a time and place to wear such attire? Should we bring them out of the house into the school or should they stay in the comfort of your home? Many students would argue they should be allowed simply out of convivence, but others may argue for them for financial reasons.

The Declaration staff conducted an anonymous survey in January 2024 via social media. The survey asked the students their views on wearing pajamas in school and their outfit choices. 100 people took the survey inquiring if wearing pajamas in school is acceptable. 18% of students polled say they wear pajamas to school all of the time.

Dress codes in many schools across the nation have come under fire in recent years. Most display concerns about posing a distraction, being excessively tight or being unsafe. Pajama bottoms are quite the opposite yet are not permitted in most schools. Some schools even banned students from wearing pajama bottoms while students were learning virtually during the Corona Virus Pandemic.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Woodbridge

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in schools ensures steps that academic systems should take to ensure everyone feels seen, valued and heard despite their, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, learning capabilities, disabilities, background or family history. Teachers receive training on this subject in Woodbridge Township School District in New Jersey. This is in hope to change and improve the school climate. Mr. Kendell Ali is the Director of the program for the entire district. Every school in the district has its own DEI chair; at Colonia High School, Brian Long is one of the chairpersons.

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Equity in schools ensures that “each student has the opportunity to get the support and resources they need to achieve their educational goals” as noted by WGU. When scrutinizing dress code policies through a DEI lens, there’s one that might need to be overhauled. That is students wearing pajamas to school.

An economically disadvantaged person may limited clothing options or limited clean clothes. The goals of schools, in respect to equity, is to create opportunity for underprivileged and underserved students so they are able to overcome disadvantages and find success. Then, shouldn’t schools lessen the stress of what to wear to school? If a financially deprived student doesn’t have the funds for new clothes or to wash the limited clothes they may have, then they might be inclined to skip school as to not feel embarrassed. Allowing students to wear pajamas to school, might give these students more outfit options and increase their chance to learn.

Long stated, “Yeah, I think whenever we are talking about these policies, I think it’s important that we’re constantly taking into consideration things like what you’re describing. Where we really need to go back to the drawing board and say like ok where are the areas where maybe we’re overlooking? And I think something you’re describing is one of those areas.” Long thinks there are a lot of factors that should be considered when talking about the dress code. Maybe this is an area where our policy has unfortunately overlooked that possibility. And in order to be more equitable and inclusive that needs to be taken into consideration.

Think about it, you need five outfits a week, every week for one hundred and eighty days of the school year. You may even repeat outfits a few times. Not every teenager can afford Hollister, Aeropostale, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Zara, etc. But as teenagers, we see something/someone who doesn’t fit in, and like to exploit them. No one is wearing designer pajamas to school. Pajamas are more about the pattern or theme, not the amount of money spent on them. If pajamas were to be allowed, maybe all students can feel a sense of community and feel like they fit in.

When asked about students’ financial situations and their attire for school, Ann Dinicola, guidance counselor and anti-bulling specialist at Colonia High School was shocked. She never thought about the situation that way before.  She thinks, “At that point, if it is a money issue, then it should be addressed personally, and if they need financial assistance maybe we could help them out because that’s what our community is about, helping.” Dinicola wonders how many students actually wear pajamas because of their financial situations. “How much does a pair of pajamas cost and how much does sweats?” Walmart Fruit of the Loom pajama pants cost $8.98 while Walmart sweats cost $12.59. There’s a difference.

Pajamas are against the dress code policy

Woodbridge Township’s student policy 5132 addresses the dress code stating, ” All students are encouraged to
dress in a way that is in good taste and is appropriate for school. Not only should appropriate student dress be clean and neat but it should not make a statement which would offend good judgment, be in poor taste, incite others, and may not be a disruptive influence, present a threat to safety and health, or violate the law. Further in the regulation it states, “Bedroom attire, such as pajama tops and/or bottoms, will not be permitted.”

There is no other explanation as for why pajamas are not permissible in the rule book. Other than pajamas possibly being in poor taste or not coinciding with a rigorous academic vibe, it is unclear how wearing them truly violates a dress code.

Long thought back to his college days when kids would often wear pajamas to school. He wouldn’t do it personally and doesn’t find it objectionable. He feels if a student is wearing appropriate clothes that they’re comfortable coming in, that’s their choice. Long doesn’t think wearing pajama pants should be forbidden as long as there are descriptions in the dress code about the cut of clothing. As long as it is meeting those expectations why does it have to be banned?

On the other hand, Dinicola explained, “Wearing pajamas to school is really saying I’m not going to obey the rules. So, I think we need to look at why they’re wearing them then. What is the reason why you wouldn’t obey the rules is really what it comes down to.” That would be her biggest question.

Conversely, Long believes in changing the dress code. “It is always a good idea to revise it.” His philosophy has always been that these rules should always be revised and how can we update and change them. He’s always in favor of updating rules and changing them based on student needs.

Reprimanding students for pajamas

Long also thinks that in all situations they should be teaching kids about dressing for professional spaces. But school is this grey area where there’s this mix of wanting to encourage students to dress professionally. But we also want to create welcoming spaces for the students.  He feels a pair of pants is a pair of pants and a shirt is a shirt. So, if a pair of pants are pajama pants how is it any different from sweatpants?

When asked if he thinks the school should stop punishing students for wearing pajamas in school. He said, “It’s a difficult thing right, because whenever we talk about policies there is always this two-pronged approach. There are policies in the book, teachers and administration are expected to follow these to the letter. But, then there’s also that factor of having to consider things on a case-by-case basis.”

Long explained, “I think needs to be done is more consideration on a case-by-case basis as to why students are maybe breaking a dress code. Or really any policy that’s being violated as long as people aren’t getting hurt obviously. But if there is a non-violent infraction, like a dress code break, I think the first step needs to be finding out why instead of jumping to punishment. So, if the rule is going to stay the way it is I think we need to be more sensitive and considerate.”

Jayvian Mandry, a Junior at Colonia High School thinks it doesn’t affect him and doesn’t care if people wear pajamas. He wears pajamas when he’s tired. He doesn’t think it’s a bad thing.

Pajama hypocrisy in school

One reoccurring apparel sale object frequently sold by clubs and sports at Colonia High School is pajama bottoms. Since school run organizations are selling them, wouldn’t that suggest are permissible to promote school spirit?

Long was asked if he thought it was hypocritical of the school to sell Colonia pajama pants but then discipline a student for wearing them to school.  He says, “I mean what else could you call that? I hadn’t considered that angle of it until you brought it up. But yeah, that is a hypocritical thing right? I mean that’s the definition. ”

Abby Vitale, a Junior at Colonia High School. When asked does she think the school should change the pajama dress code? She said yes because the students wake up early and sometimes want to be comfortable. Vitale brought up a good point saying, “Why would Colonia make merch with pajama pants if we can’t wear it.”

Perception of wearing pajamas out of the house

The Woodbridge Township student handbook policy for dress code states, “Appropriate dress would be the type attire which would identify the serious and important nature of the educational process.” Do pjs highlight the seriousness of the education system?

In an article entitled “The psychology of clothing,” Medium states, “Imagine walking into a job interview wearing pajamas. No matter how skilled or experienced you are, your attire will likely make a lasting impression that you’re unprofessional. According to research, it takes just seven seconds to form a first impression. What you wear plays a crucial role in that quick assessment. Clothing can communicate trustworthiness, reliability, and competence-or the lack thereof.” Teachers, administrators and students notice what you are wearing and will likely make assumptions.

Andrea Simkovich, guidance counselor at Colonia High School has a mixed opinion on wearing pajamas to school. Simkovich understands pajamas are comfortable and she can’t wait to go home and jump into them. However, when Simkovich wears pajamas it’s to bring on that level of comfort that signals tired/lazy. Simkovich thinks wearing pajamas to school can show a lack of motivation to prepare yourself for school. Although pajamas are great for spirit days, but daily usage can present a lack of motivation to teachers and staff. She wants students to take pride in themselves and that means dressing properly for school.

When asked about students’ financial situations and how some can’t afford brand-name clothes. Abby Vitale said, “Yeah that happens all the time and doesn’t include them and making them feel bad because they can’t dress a certain way in school is just terrible. Like you let all these kids dress in crazy ways but we can’t wear pajamas?” Vitale thinks the school should be more inclusive and have an open mind with money situations when talking about the dress code. She thinks the school punishing students for wearing pajamas is dumb and shouldn’t even happen.

Pajamas and mental health

Especially after quarantining because of the pandemic, a number of articles explained that even if you are working from home, dressing for the job psychological advantages. Pajamas signal sleep or relaxation.  HuffPost use a quote from Ryan G. Beale, a licensed psychotherapist, in their article entitled “Mental health benefits getting dressed for work.” Although Beale was referring to quarantine times, the heart of his quote may say something about the correlation between pajamas and mental health.

Beale said, “I don’t think it’s critical to put your suit on, but you could go ahead and put on khakis and a polo, something that is different from your lounging clothes. It tells your brain something new is about to happen and helps you shift gears. That’s why it’s important to shift throughout the day. The reality is if you don’t, you’re likely going to be in a bit of a Groundhog Day and it can put you in a funk.”

In analyzing why students wear them, DiNicola thinks, “There is a lot that goes into it. it comes down to whether they are sad or is it that they don’t do what they’re told to do and don’t care. Teenagers are in the midst of trying to find themselves.” She thinks it could also be that maybe the students just want to wear them and there is nothing wrong mentally. Just that day they wanted to wear pajamas. “I don’t think we will know on the surface. I think that’s something where I would have to sit down with somebody and really talk about it.”

Simkovich feels wearing of pajamas does not reflect unstable mental health. She believes it is just the feeling of being comfortable and relaxed. But, Simkovich believes that when the students wake up and get ready in the morning, the act of changing clothes kicks off the day.  Instead of rolling out of bed in pajamas, the change prepares them for the day and makes them feel better about themselves throughout the day.


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About the Contributor
Joseph Torres
Joseph Torres, Reporter
Joseph Torres is currently a junior at Colonia High School. Torres is a New Jersey native and a proud Puerto Rican. He loves spending his time socializing and being with his friends. He is also an aspiring model on the come up. Torres is naturally competitive and sees every task he has as a competition he must win. When he is older he has dreams of becoming a model to represent the LGBTQ Hispanic community. Torres is a genuine, confident, and kind person who is really easy to talk to. He enjoys writing, dancing, talking, and watching horror movies. He has a great fashion sense and gives amazing advice.

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