By: Alexa Szafranski (11th), with additional reporting by Avi Kahn (12th) and Yosef Fruhman (11th)
Hebrew Academy is cutting down on bearded students this week as part of an effort to brush up on the image of students.
The school has asked several students to shave their beards because they want to ensure a “clean cut” look among students.
Although beards are not explicitly mentioned in the school handbook, the school says it falls under the general uniform policy. According to the handbook, the dress code seeks to satisfy "achieving a professional appearance that is clean and neat befitting a young adult."
"It's not new, this is longstanding," said Assistant Principal Dr Lieber. “It says that the kids need to look ‘clean cut,’ not that they cannot have a beard. What this means is no colored hair, piercings, and unkempt beards. For example, there’s one boy who has a beard, but it's neat and clean, so he was not spoken to. It’s when your hair is unruly.”
Lieber pointed out that the recent crackdown is due to the fact that more students are coming to school with a combination of a beard and longer hair.
After hearing about the policy, some students became upset.
“I think that in an institution where they already limit you so much with the physical dress code and the clothes you have to wear, something so insignificant as facial hair should be left to the individual to decide upon,” said Alina Sterenfeld (11th).
Aorel Abotbol (11th) was told to shave his beard and cut his hair yesterday when walking into school.
“I’m not going to shave my beard because it’s who I am,” said Abotbol (11th). “I don’t think it’s fair to kids because we have the right to look however we want.”
Students questioned what started the enforcement of the policy so late in the year, but Head Disciplinarian Mr. Matla explained that the school had more relevant problems to handle before and could only address this topic now.
“We had other things we were dealing with first,” said Mr. Matla. “We got some of the bigger things out of the way and now we're dealing with dress code, which continues to be a problem because for some reason it’s February and we still don't have it down.”
Even though some students are mad about the policy being enforced, others understand that the rights of expression in private schools are not like those in public schools; they recognize the ability the school has to control the appearance of the students.
“This is a private school. In a private school the administrators are allowed to tell the students what to do, and if you don’t agree with that you shouldn’t be here,” said Danelle Levi (11th).
Daniel Ohana (11th), one of the students told to shave his beard, said he is not a fan of the policy.
“What really bothers me isn’t the fact that I cant’ have a beard,” said Ohana. “It’s the fact that the school encourage students to express themselves, but are limiting this form of expression. If the school truly cares about freedom of expression, they wouldn’t probit facial hair growth.”