Semiformal as we know it is history,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said — and history it should be. After the alcohol and drug-related hospitalizations of students who attended the afterparty, the administration made the logical decision to cancel semiformal.
Though the actual semiformal dance was not the problem, its existence in its current form has in the past, and as recently as two and a half weeks ago, led to a night of unsafe drinking and drug use for many students.
The custom has been for a small group of seniors to plan an afterparty for the event, open to all 10th-12th graders and usually held in a club or some other rented space. There is security at the door to take tickets, keep the party under maximum capacity and ensure that no alcohol is brought into the event. The starting time is usually a half hour or so after the semiformal lockdown ends.
The problems that arise from this setup are numerous and potentially life threatening. Some students drink a lot of alcohol quickly, in the short period of time between leaving semiformal and arriving at the afterparty. Frequently, this drinking occurs in limos where the students are all sitting down. Both of these factors make it difficult for those consuming to determine how impaired they are becoming. In addition, many girls eat little to no food on the day of semiformal. This too contributes to students getting drunker than they mean to, and possibly sick.
The administration and students should come up with a way to have a semiformal-like event that doesn’t prompt the orchestration of a schoolwide afterparty. For example, if the school were to split semiformal into two dances (one for freshmen and sophomores and one for juniors and seniors), afterparties, if held at all, would more likely be smaller gatherings held at homes where behavior could be regulated more easily. Also, a separation such as this could remove pressure potentially placed on younger students to drink in order to “keep up” with older students.
The athletic department was justified in punishing athletes that went overboard at the afterparty. When joining a team, an athlete is making a commitment to the sport, promising to always perform to their greatest ability. While coaches may not say it explicitly, there is an expectation that athletes will take care of their bodies. By drinking or using drugs, an athlete is disrespecting his or her teammates and coaches by knowingly jeopardizing their athletic performance and therefore the success of the team.
In response to the problems posed by semiformal as it is (or was), the school has not only cancelled semiformal but also levied undisclosed punishments against those students whom they felt “were responsible.”
However, many students made irresponsible decisions that night and did not hold themselves to the good behavior the administration has made clear it expects of us at all times, be it on campus, at a sporting event or anywhere else.
The school should disclose the punishment given to these students as a way of keeping open the communication between themselves and the student body. Keeping the punishment secret serves no purpose but to perpetuate rumors and further aggravate those who feel the administration is acting unfairly by punishing these individuals.
Above all, though, students should learn from the events of semiformal night. We should try to conduct ourselves with good judgment and the utmost concern for our classmates’ safety. And while we applaud those with the good sense and presence of mind to call ambulances for students in danger, we also look to the creation of a school event that does not lead to situations in which such actions are necessary.