Ellie Kaiser was excited to volunteer for the Festival of Trees on Saturday to help raise money for the Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. The high school senior and National Honor Society student put on her most professional attire—a conservative-looking pantsuit she plans to wear to college interviews with Georgetown and American University in coming months—and headed over to the event, KUTV reports. But her charitable spirit was dashed when she got there and was told by an event organizer that she wasn't adhering to the dress code (slacks for guys, dresses or skirts for girls). "I said, 'Hi, I'm from Skyline High School, I'm ready to volunteer,' and she [the organizer] just said, 'We don't allow pants,'" Ellie tells KUTV.
Festival chair Marie Partridge agrees that Ellie was told she couldn't wear pants, but she tells the Salt Lake Tribune that the dress code has been in place since the event started more than 40 years ago and that "once someone sees someone wearing pants, then everyone thinks that would be accepted. We just don't go there." Partridge also mentioned the attire helps volunteers stand out from the general public, though KUTV notes that all volunteers wear special tags. Ellie says she was given the choice of putting on a skirt that organizers had or working the coat check, where her outfit wouldn't really be seen, but she opted to leave instead. "I thought it was extremely sexist, to be honest," she tells KUTV. (John Boehner yelled at Congress last year for members' sloppy dress.)