In the November issue of The Rebellion, Editorial Editor Molly O’Connell wrote about the potential risks of athletes participating in senior night. In response to the article, the editors of The Rebellion received an article expressing similar concern over the issue. Here is the letter:
“Senior Night” is a well written article highlighting a serious issue. In my experience teaching about hazing in the health curriculum, there is a population of people who don’t view hazing as a serious issue. Ideally, hazing is conducted with an altruistic intent; as a way to create unity and camaraderie. However, most often hazing fosters a culture of revenge. Hazers use the hazing acts as a way to get back at those who hazed them. “If I had to wear ridiculous makeup/clothes etc, then they have to do it too.” The precedent that senior night activities are a “tradition” supports the reality that hazing is occurring. There is an expectation to participate when you join these teams.
Hazing gives power to one athlete over another. In many cases, the hazer is in that position of power because of the length of time on the team, not because they earned any authority. Hazing is an abuse of power. Additionally, the acts the victims are forced to endure are unrelated to the sport. They don’t improve performance or skill. The only purpose of these acts is for the entertainment of the hazers. Athletes join teams because they want to play a sport they enjoy and be a part of something positive, not to be embarrassed.
The decision athletes are forced to make to participate or not is an extremely stressful no-win situation. If they participate, they have to deal with the embarrassing outfits/makeup/hair etc, comments from other students, and consequences from teachers/administration. If they don’t participate, they deal with the pressure from their teammates, including underclassmen who participated. All the while, the teammates enforcing the “tradition” suffer no penalties.
Finally, Massachusetts hazing law states “consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution.” Just because someone agrees to participate does not negate the occurrence of hazing.
– Walpole High P.E. Department