Student Life at International School Bangkok


Student Life at International School Bangkok


Student Life at International School Bangkok


Students Subject to Uniform “Crackdown” Over Next Few Weeks

Putter Ratana-ungkool
Senior class president Zola Barnwell may be smiling here, but she’s not happy about the crackdown

Starting Monday, ISB administration and faculty will be conducting a so-called “crackdown” on dress code violations in the high school for the next two weeks before the break as well as during the week everyone returns from Songkran break, administration officials say. This will be done with a group of a dozen teacher volunteers staffing all school entrances — including the back gate — in the mornings to check for uniform breaches such as shorts that are not long enough, Crocs, and unapproved hoodies.

The decision to enforce the school uniform policy to this extent comes down to myriad reasons, most notably complaints from both parents and teachers regarding the lack of decency and discipline of students. Teachers and parents primarily oppose uniform infractions from high school students because it affects the way younger students interpret the dress code, leading to even more violators. 

Another reason is simply out of respect for ISB’s host country. “Thailand is actually a really conservative culture,” says Dean of Students Andy Vaughan in explaining the decision to reinforce the dress code over the next two weeks. “I think since we live in a Thai society we should take on some of the norms here that show respect to the other culture. I think it’s very disrespectful to some of the ways that the uniform has been worn to Thai culture, and our Thai staff that work here get quite upset by it.” 

Dean of Students Andy Vaughan, explaining the rationale behind the crackdown (Putter Ratana-ungkool)

He acknowledges that some of the complaints from parents and teachers are gendered. “Typically we don’t have to say to guys, ‘Your shorts are too short,’” Mr. Vaughan says. “It tends to be the females who are singled out for this, which is a problem in the world too.”

Here is how dealing with uniform violations will work: On the first day, if students comes to school in violation of the dress code, they will receive a warning about this first infraction. But if students violate the dress code a second time, they will be asked to wear a clean second-hand uniform or purchase a new one. If a student carries on with these violations, parents will be notified and a meeting with Mr. Andy Vaughan will be planned. 

Most students PantherNation interviewed find the timing, and the spirit, of the crackdown less than ideal, with many complaining that it’s an overreaction. Zola Barnwell, senior class president, characterizes the effort as “outrageous” and predicts it will cause discontent among the student body. “We want students to feel comfortable in what they’re wearing, feeling good about themselves,” she says. “It’s taking away confidence from people. It’s taking away their self-expression. So I’m actually very against it.”

Sophomore Ing Sirimongkolkitti thinks the timing isn’t right. “Personally, I don’t think they should have done this in the middle of the school year,” he says. 

Says senior Gene Chawaldit: “I think that it is normal for girls to have shorter shorts than boys, but it still needs to be an appropriate length.”

Sophomore Jazz Hereford calls the dress code “strict.”

Sophomore Jazz Hereford (Putter Ratana-ungkool)

Sophomore Tony Limthongthang jokes, “Man, I’m just so disappointed I can’t wear my booty shorts to school anymore.” 

And Sophomore Lukas Richter points out that the beginning of next school year might have been a better time. “I think they should have waited until next year since we’re already changing uniforms and it’s going to be mandatory next year,” he says. “They should have just done it at that time.”

After the Songkran break, faculty will no longer be at entrances, Mr. Vaughan says. Instead, teachers will be required to oversee uniform checks during the first and second blocks of the day. 

Additionally, new uniform policies such as students being required to wear the ISB-branded shirts and shorts will be policed next year, he says. This resolves the issue of how teachers currently interpret the dress code, as Mr. Vaughan admits that regulating the uniform policy has been tricky: “If you have 10 different teachers and then you show 10 different shorts and ask them which ones are part of the uniform, then I think you may get 10 different answers,” he explains.

Overall, the point of the crackdown on uniforms is to make the ISB community stronger, he says. “School is bigger than just learning about the facts or knowledge in class. It’s learning how to be part of the community,” Mr. Vaughan says. 

The entire PantherNation team contributed to the reporting of this story. 

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    NachoApr 1, 2024 at 10:16 am