The Evolution of Mercy Uniforms

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Abbey Lovat & Lizzie Peterson, Sports Editor & Managing Copy Editor

With the record now set straight and many worries of the future about Mercy uniforms put to rest, Administration has officially announced uniforms changes that will be enforced starting at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. Changes were not made without first addressing the student government in a meeting that took place in the beginning of March.

President Cheryl Kreger began the meeting by explaining to Student Council and Human Relations Council (HRC) the reasons why they were discussing uniforms and thinking about making changes. When former alumnae and parents received the news that she would be returning to Mercy as president, they began to discuss with her their concerns about the current uniforms.

“The only group who didn’t voice concerns was the student group,” said Dr. Kreger, which is why the meeting was called, to get input from the students themselves.

One major question that parents and alumnae raised was if there still even was a uniform at Mercy. Many girls choose to wear their uniform in a way that does not follow guidelines printed in the agenda books, and it became increasingly difficult to try and get students to stick to these uniform guidelines.

The administrative team did not want to make any major changes. They wanted everyone, including students, to support the uniform policy that Mercy does have.

Principal Carolyn Witte also dispelled some rumors that have been circulating in school for months. She said that the skirts and blouses will remain the same. She also said that students will still be allowed to wear any type of shoe, as long as it does not resemble a slipper and it does not come above the ankle.

“I wore saddle shoes when I went to Mercy,” Dr. Kreger said, “and I would never make you girls wear such ugly shoes.”

Mrs. Witte and Dr. Kreger then presented Student Council and HRC with some changes that they were considering in order to get student feedback. They talked about possibly having the quarter-zip sweatshirts as the only sweater option, and requiring solid black knee socks or tights for all grades.

Dr. Kreger addressed four points of emphasis. First, she wants the uniform to be cost efficient. Second, a good feeling or tone in the school is desired. Third, a small amount of individuality is permitted, but it must be controlled and within the uniform guidelines. Fourth, and most importantly, the goal is to simplify.

Mrs. Witte and Dr. Kreger were willing to discuss and consider student input. They really took interest in the opinions of the student government. The students voiced their opinions respectfully, and they represented the interests of the student body as well.

Thus, a few minor changes in the uniform policy will begin to be enforced at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. These are being introduced to maintain a uniform policy while allowing certain options, but reducing the number of options. The skirt and blouse will remain the same, but students will now only be able to wear white or black socks or black tights with no pattern. Anything worn under the blouse will not be allowed to be visible, even if it is solid white. The two sweater options have been narrowed down to the quarter zips and the v-neck uniform sweaters. Students will have the freedom to wear any shoes they like as long as no outside fur is visible and the top of the shoe is below the ankle.

“The new uniform policies are reasonable and still allow everyone to express themselves, but just in a way that unifies each grade and the school as a whole,” said student council member Laura Williams.

Since the classes of 2012 and 2014 already own the uniform they will be wearing next year, they will be allowed to wear any other style of sweater that they have already purchased for one year, which may include the crew neck, vest, or cardigan sweater.

Though Mercy girls have always followed a uniform policy, the policy has undoubtedly changed throughout the years.

When President Kreger ’66 attended Mercy, saddle shoes were mandatory for each student. Since then, the shoe policy has evolved to include any close-toed shoe that does not rise above the ankle or resemble a slipper (have fur). Any color, any pattern is acceptable, which allows for personalization and individual expression within the uniform.

Over the last decade alone, the uniform policy has changed dramatically.

“Out of all the Catholic schools, we had the most liberties,” said ’00 graduate Nuverre Naami.

She recalled that any solid color polo or button down shirt was legal under the code. Additionally, any solid color socks met the rules, though some students got away with stripes, Naami recalls. Hats and scarves were also allowed to be worn during school.