Sunday, October 02, 2011

Froshing Incident

There was a report on the West Seattle Blog about a "froshing" incident in West Seattle. Students from Garfield and Roosevelt were involved.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I reported this to Pegi McEvoy. It's troubling that Roosevelt and Garfield students went over to a West Seattle park to do this. It is also very troubling that there was drinking and driving involved.

The person reporting this is a teacher at WSHS so I believe in her ability to record accurately what she said and did.

There is an RCW and Board policy against such behavior. I suspect if you are the parent of an SPS high school student, you'll hear about this.

Anonymous said...

Highly disturbing incident. Can the high school administration take disciplinary action when the setting is a public park?

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely convinced that any of these kids were actually from Roosevelt. Embarrassed to say that in my day *sigh* we often told adults that we were from a rival school when caught in less-than-flattering situations and I believe there was a Roosevelt-Garfield football game that night. Unless there is a Roosevelt "tradition" of froshing, I get the impression that these were GHS students. We know plenty of GHS seniors from the neighborhood and I'm so dismayed by this. I hope some changes can be made and life lessons learned. Kudos to the adult that took a stand. FWIW, I know that under-aged drinking is a battle at every high school, and we all need to combat it. This additional activity simply takes it that much further over the top for me. What a waste.

seattle citizen said...

Or if you're a parent of a Garfield or Roosevelt student, you might spot your kid in the picture...

Students are tech-savvy: It's amazing that they do things, publicly, that they know might be recorded...forever! Not too savvy, wot?

With face-recognition software here, and students' smiling headshots available on all school servers, it's a wonder someone hasn't put two and two together: Where's YOUR student, and what are they doing?

Not that I'm in favor of that (or even of applying RCW or board policy off school grounds, perhaps) but you'd think students would know to be less public about such things.

On a related note, when Jonathan Raban was speaking about his book, Surveillance (a novel about the world the "War On Terror" might bring us), he was bemoaning the various ways we might be tracked in public nowadays. I reminded him that the spot we were standing on (old Elliott Bay Books downstairs) was almost the exact spot where there used to be a longhouse, housing a hundred or more people: In THAT society, EVERYTHING was "surveilled": Little privacy at all. THEY seemed okay with it, and perhaps the fact that one was under constant watch, or discusssion, by one's community members led to a more civil society...?
hmmm....Not sure where that leads us regarding young people and their crazy behaviors, but maybe it suggests that when they know people are keeping an eye out, like this teacher did in this incident, they get a sudden feeling of abashedness, and come to their senses?

Maureen said...

It seems pretty clear that they were GHS students (purple t-shirts in pic and corroborated in comments and GHS kids traditionally 'frosh' on homecoming night from what I understand.)

In the comments, waterworld posts:

Interesting article in the June, 2011 edition of The Bark, the Garfield HS PTSA newsletter, on page 2, entitled “Keeping Kids Safe: Hazing.” The author discusses both the pro-hazing crowd, who note how “froshing” contributes to bonding, and the not-so-pro-hazing crowd, who witness students experiencing fear and humiliation.
The author also notes that “Some extreme and concerning recent examples of hazing at GHS include a freshman who was paddled and forced to jump off the 520 bridge from a height of 30 feet, swim back to shore, and then drink. Another freshman was taken to the emergency room at Harborview for alcohol poisoning from under the 520 overpass in the arboretum. A drunk and bruised freshman student was driven to a street corner near the school and told to find his way home, across town.”
Love those bonding experiences.
Maybe kids don’t read the PTSA newsletter and don’t realize that sometimes these rituals are quite dangerous. But there’s also the Garfield HS Student Handbook, which explains that hazing, including “froshing,” is a felony offense, regardless of whether the student being initiated is compliant or not. (There goes your “it’s totally optional” argument.) The handbook lists activities that often are part of GHS hazing: “Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to the following: dunking in the lake, face painting, baby powder, whipped cream, shaving cream, boxing, other forms of ‘initiation,’ humiliation, or abuse. Consequences include: No school activities for the remainder of the school year (e.g., no Purple and White Day Dance, no Senior Prom), and Suspension or expulsion, and/or possible criminal charges…”
At least it’s clear what the administration position is on the issue. It will be difficult for the upperclass students involved to say they didn’t know this kind of activity is, at a minimum, frowned upon, and at a maximum, grounds for referral to prosecutors.
Having said that, I’m not itching for teenagers to get prosecuted (not that my opinion matters one way or another on this subject). It would be wonderful, though, if the older students involved in this incident could open their minds to the apparent reality that some girls were not having any fun at all, and that it is unquestionably dangerous to trek across town to drink beer and haze junior class members.

Comment by waterworld — October 2, 11 12:18 am

Here's a link to the Bark article re. Hazing (see p. 3.) The Handbook linked to at GHS is from 07-08 but contains the language waterworld references.

Jet City mom said...

Froshing is one reason why I was hesitant to have my child attend Garfield. It has been going on for decades and despite efforts of admin, it doesn't seem to be abating.

I think there is a difference between face painting of freshman by upperclassmen & activities which include substances.

IMO they would have better luck separating out activities which actually are dangerous.

My daughter attended & worked at a local residential camp for several years & some of the behavior- funny clothes, face painting, dunking in the lake, are camp sanctioned activities. No substances or driving involved however.

If they want to stop the activity they have to fill the need for " bonding" behavior with something else.

BTW- any news about the football coach?

Anonymous said...

"IMO they would have better luck separating out activities which actually are dangerous. "

I agree with this -- it seems to me that 14yo could consent, legitimately, to having their face painted. By mixing everything together (from face painting -- innocuous, though potentially coercive, to lake dunking, potentially dangerous, to alcohol and drugs, definitely dangerous) they end up with something worse than they might if they allowed somethings more innocuous (and, tried to protect those who don't want to participate at all).


CT said...

The Stranger is reporting more attacks at RBHS and SPS employees not calling 911.

anonymous said...

Um, don't the freshman have some responsibility in this? Seems like only a few, the ones that consent, get frothed. That doesn't excuse the upper classmen, but I'd hope that the majority of freshman make better choices, and opt out of frothing. If I was a parent of a freshman at Garfield or any other SPS HS I'd be talking about frothing and how to avoid it right NOW.

SPS mom

An Administrator said...

Rule #1 is we do NOT blame the victim in cases of Bullying!

Let's leave aside for a moment the fact that they are below the age of consent, which is a whole issue of it's own. Freshmen are powerless in the school.

If an upperclassman tells them they're going to do something, what is a scared little freshman going to do? Stand up and say no? Only those few-and-far-between freshmen who are strong and wise beyond their years.

Most freshmen don't have a whelk's chance in a supernova (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference) of standing up to an upperclassman bent on "Froshing".

It is the job of the adults to hold the line and NEVER blame the victim for being victimized.

anonymous said...

Of course we don't "blame" the victim. We don't blame a child for getting kidnapped, but we do teach them to never ever get in a car with stranger right? We talk to them about what to do and how to handle it when someone offers them drugs, right? We teach our daughters not put themselves in situations where they are vulnerable to date rape, right? We teach them to never get in the car with someone who has been drinking right? Don't blame the victim, of course, but do educate your child so they have less chance of becoming a victim in the first place. Just because someone is young does not mean they are helpless and easily manipulated. It's our job as parents to equip our kids to make good choices, give them all the information that we can, and teach them what to do if they find themselves in a vulnerable situation. I will have a freshman next year and after reading this post I plan on teaching him just what froshing is, how to identify it, how to avoid it, how to report it if he sees it happening to someone else, and what to do if he ever finds himself in a vulnerable situation.

SPS mom

Anonymous said...

It seems to me like the 2 freshman who called their mom did what you'd teach your kids to do. I don't think froshing incidents start with some kind of contract that details exactly what the upper classman are going to do when they "frosh" you.

that is, the 14 year olds consented to some kind of party, not to a party with the specific incidents described.


Anonymous said...

Honestly most people out here do not know the facts of this incident and have only read what principal Howard emailed out. What happened was this: A group of 150-200 Garfield students were in the arboretum having a celebration for homecoming. This celebration did include free alcohol for everyone. That being said, many people attend these festivities and do not drink or smoke, it is totally no pressure and just a fun time.

That admittedly is not always true, and a few kids do take it too far. I was there the entire time and did not drink, smoke or frosh anyone, and I also did not see anyone in diapers. The gathering was not a "hazing get together" the point was not to go out and "haze" freshmen. The idea is that everyone takes a freshmen or two that they know, goes and froshes them, then takes them to the park for their first real Garfield social experience. Usually what this looks like is this: A few upperclassmen and a few freshmen go to one of the upperclassmen's house, often times with parental permission. They make them do fun activities such as wrestling, eating weird foods, etc. They then get hosed off, cleaned up, and taken to the park where they are protected by the people who froshed them and expected to make friends and enjoy themselves. My freshmen froshing experience was one of my favorite memories of high school.

Admittedly there were a few upperclassmen at this gathering who got too violent and started paddling freshmen, which is common among a certain group of friends. That being said, if a freshmen ever says "I really do not want you to paddle me" or something like that, MANY upperclassmen, such as myself and others will make sure that kid doesn't get paddled.

The reality of this event is FAR from the grotesque portrait that is being painted by the media right now. If you were not there, please stop acting like you know what is right for kids, and please stop characterizing this as some kind of malicious incident of hazing.

The final point I would like to bring up is that people have very skewed views of the types of kids who attend these kind of functions. The majority of kids that were there are not screw ups, far from it. Valedictorians, national merit scholars, varsity sports captains were all there. This is not some kind of weird phenomenon where people "wear masks" and get drunk to the point of no return and beat up freshmen. This is actually a very relaxed and chill tradition that got broken up very fast by our principal, which caused kids to make rash decisions, such as getting in car accidents, running from the cops etc. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope you do not believe everything you hear in the news.

Concerned Senior

Anonymous said...

Since the first day of school I have had freshmen come up to me in the halls who I barely know and beg me to frosh them. This is in no way a one sided, kidnap-type event. It's a tradition that is almost always enjoyed by both the freshmen and upperclassmen. Some kids obviously take it to far, and those are the only kids that all you parents hear about. If you heard about every incidence of positive froshing you would not think it was such a bad thing, believe me.

Garfield Senior