MEMPHIS, Tennessee - Westside Middle school principal Bobby White had a problem to solve: saggy pants in his hallways. Students wore their pants low-slung, like the people they’d see in rap videos.
That was, until the “urkeling” started.
After a staff member suggested White fight pop culture with pop culture, he began the new policy inspired by one of the 1990’s most famous sitcom characters, Steve Urkel. His style of dress is now a verb in the halls of Westside.
Staff members walk the halls with zip ties, and if they see saggy pants they get to work. The process is simple: pull up the students pants, possibly as high as chest-level, pinch the sides together to take out any slack in the waistband, and lock it in place with a zip tie.
There’s even an Urkel photo board for all to see. But it’s no beauty contest.
“All the girls will laugh and tell you how ridiculous you look,” said one student.
Actually it’s the staff that is enjoying the competition. Teacher Shaka Greene is the reigning Urkel Award champ.
He started out ‘urkeling’ as many as 80 students a week, but after five weeks it dropped to just 18.
“We’re talking about a more than 80-percent drop in the number of students that we actually have to put a zip tie on,” Greene says.
White’s motto is “pride, passion, and professionalism.”
One young man summed it up best when he said, “The students know how to strap up or to get strapped up around here.”
Principal White also instituted a tie day on Tuesdays, and on Jazzy Thursdays the girls are instructed to dress professionally.