Puppies, Kittens, Superheroes, Nerds, and Skiers - Oh My!

Unfogging CHS's New Hazing Policy
Friday, September 30th, 2011

Until recently, there has not been a strongly enforced hazing policy at the high school. This year however, upper and under classmen who participate in Chatham sports have been told that even the simplest acts of hazing will not be tolerated.

UrbanDictionary.com has defined hazing as, “Usually part of initiations into a group of some sort. Commonly done by pouring nasty food over people, making them do humiliating things, and other ways.” At Chatham, this is hardly the case. The most common, and most flamboyant, form of hazing is simply making freshmen dress up in ridiculous costumes. Over the years, freshmen teams have come to school as puppies, kittens, superheroes, nerds, and skiers. While this may seem harmless, students and parents have reacted stronger this year than ever before, which has caused the school to take action against this form of “bullying”.

Apparently, some ninth graders have been feeling very uncomfortable with the tasks seniors have imposed on them. Chatham High School has a very serious anti-bullying policy, and the school will not stand by while feelings are hurt. This new policy against hazing has been established to prevent all types of hazing, no matter what the case. What has once been a right of passage for underclassmen will no longer be accepted at CHS. Students, teachers, and coaches all feel very differently about these new restrictions.

Jeremy Heinze, the girl’s field hockey varsity coach and high school gym teacher, was one of the coaches informed of this new policy for hazing. He bluntly stated, “I agree with the hazing policy one hundred percent.” When asked to elaborate, Coach Heinze said, “It’s not like they’re being told to wear their uniforms to school. They’re being told to dress as bunnies and kittens and stupid stuff.”

Hazing in the form of dressing up to go to school has usually been considered a voluntary practice. When reminded of this, Heinze retorted, “I don’t think that even though it’s ‘voluntary’ [air quotes] freshmen may feel pressure to do what they’re told. How many freshman athletes are going to tell a senior ‘no’?” His opinion on the subject is motivated by the desire to have all students feel safe at school, and not be subjected to peer pressure. He stressed that, “nobody should be made uncomfortable or put in a situation like that, regardless of grade.”

From a coach’s standpoint, this makes a good deal of sense. However, not all students agree with his opinion. Some do think that hazing can make younger students uncomfortable, but all “hazing” is done with good intentions of bringing a team closer together. Anonymously, students at Chatham High School gave their views of the severity of the new policy.

When asked what they thought of the new policies being enforced, and specifically about the freshmen not being allowed to dress in costume anymore, students had a lot to say. One person answered, “I think if people don’t want to be hazed, they shouldn’t have to be. But if it’s a team thing, and the whole team is willing to do it for fun, then they should be allowed to. I mean, it’s not like everyone’s like, ‘Oh shoot, I have to dress up,’ you know?”

After this statement was given, students were also asked if they thought the new policy against hazing was particularly harsh, and there was a resounding, “yes” amongst a group of people. When asked for a reason why she thought this, one student replied, “It’s a tradition that’s being taken away,” and, “It’s not forced, it’s an option.” The point of hazing, and dressing up in costumes in particular, is not to embarrass freshmen. It is to show pride for a team and a sport, and for many years it has been, “a right of passage, and team bonding.” This subject has sparked mixed feelings between coaches and students, but it can be summarized as a semi-drastic step taken to ensure the safety of Chatham students.