Should the Durag Ban Go? Administration Says No.


Students protested the ban on durags and the debatable use of the word “detain” in messages from administration. Photograph taken by Camille Bugayong.

Camille Bugayong, Copy Editor and In Our School Editor

“We’re just trying to set students up for the future,”  Mr. Del Guercio stated regarding the current ban of non-religious head coverings in West Orange High School. 

An interview with the deans on the controversial aspects of the dress code provided vague answers to an audience that will surely demand more. 

On the afternoon before March 4th’s student protest, Dr. Chung, Mr. Maniscalco, and Mr. DelGuercio were asked to comment on the atmosphere surrounding the ban on non-religious head coverings. Out of consideration, the questions for this interview were provided to those involved prior to the actual interview taking place. 

Within the first minute of the interview, Dr. Chung stated, “We’re not focusing on durags, it’s never been about durags, it is non-religious headgear,” a statement that she and the accompanying deans make sure to repeat throughout the interview. 

Students can be assured that strict enforcement of the dress code policies is merely about professionalism, “Can you imagine how frustrating this gets when we’re trying to present a certain level of decorum and professionalism from the top down?” asks Mr. Del Guercio. “We all want that for our students who certainly can’t go to work that way.” 

The deans believe that it is possible for students to express themselves creatively through their wardrobe choices while still conforming with their idea of professionalism. “You want to wake up and dress nicely to leave the house, not just fall out of bed and come to school,” says Dr. Chung. 

Although the school has a somewhat hazy idea of how students should dress, there are definitely no plans for a uniform policy. 

During the “March on March 4th,” student protesters passed out petitions to demand a change in the school dress code. Photograph taken by Camille Bugayong.

The reasoning for why harsh measures are suddenly being taken correlates with readjustment to a normal school life following the COVID-19 pandemic. Administration felt with the chaos of an irregular school system, a dress code was not as strictly enforced. However, the leeway period is over. 

Most notably, the deans state that the durag ban has nothing to do with Black culture, a perception that students have protested and fought against. “That question is a little biased,” Dr. Chung states, “It’s not suppressing Black culture, it’s actually just we don’t want any headgear that doesn’t have a religious affiliation on someone’s head.” Dr. Chung notes that she is speaking from the perspective of an African American woman. 

In an Instagram post from the account @wohs.marchformarch4, a list of demands were posted that student protestors hope to achieve in the coming weeks. One demand says, “Get rid of ‘detain’ verbiage.” Dr. Chung commented that she has never used the word at all, and the word she often uses is detention

“What students are saying is misleading,” added Mr. Del Guercio, who claims that he has read through every announcement. 

In the following weeks, it is expected that more aspects of the dress code will be strictly enforced, “Crop tops with the nice weather upon us will not be allowed either,” says Mr. Del Guercio. 

Nevertheless, there is support for the student body using their voice. “We want students to have a voice and we want them to be creative and artistic in their expression,” says Dr. Chung. “We want students to feel free to come up and have conversations with us so that we can avoid any miscommunication in the future.”

Mr. Maniscalco adds, “The dean’s office is here to help the students. We’re here to defend you if you’re being treated wrongly. But if you’re doing wrongly, we’re here to call you out on it as well.”