Administration cancels future semiformals

By Jordan Freisleben


Consequences have been levied against the students whom the administration considers responsible for misconduct after the semiformal dance on Jan. 29 at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra said.

The punishments did not go through the Honor Board, Salamandra said.

All future semiformals have been cancelled indefinitely as a result of the binge drinking, Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts announced at an all-school assembly on Wednesday Feb. 2.

“Semiformal as we know it is history,” Huybrechts said.

Salamandra said he could not disclose the individual punishments or how many students were punished.

“We tried hard to be as fair as we were in previous situations and as consistent as

we could possibly be,” he said.

Salamandra said that the responsible students were candid with their involvement in the situation.

Ambulances called to the site of the “afterparty” at Jane’s House on Hollywood Blvd. transported six intoxicated students, mostly sophomores and juniors, to the hospital, Salamandra said.

The party at Jane’s House, a private party not sanctioned by the school, was shut down at 12:15 a.m., approximately one hour after it started. The party was organized by a group of seniors that refer to themselves as “Sick Pawdays.” About 400 students were at the afterparty, Salamandra said.

Club management called Guardian Angels, a public safety organization, to report a person overdosing, Public Relations Manager for the Los Angeles chapter Jeremy Meyer said.

The Guardian Angels decided to call the paramedics after finding three people who had overdosed “with their eyes rolled back into their head,” Meyer said. Police arrived with the paramedics, declared an unlawful assembly and subsequently evacuated the club. Huybrechts said that while alcohol abuse has been an issue at previous semiformal after-parties, this year was perhaps the worst case.

“Every year we warn about this and we tell you to be careful, we caution parents, we go on and on and on, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears,” Huybrechts said. “Our school cannot continue to support an event that seems to serve as the platform for a night of binge drinking or bad behavior associated with intoxication.”

A videographer outside of the club on Saturday night filmed the series of events at Jane’s House and released the video to local news source KNBC, Salamandra said. The video appeared on the 8 a.m. news on Sunday morning.

“We have to be concerned about our reputation,” Huybrechts said. “You want to be able to graduate from Harvard-Westlake School and be proud of that.”

School Chaplain Father J. Young said that the school was trying to act in the best interests of students.

“We care about you as if you were our children,” Young said. “Because we care about you, we want you to do a better job with this. We want you to come together and make this thing better, and you can do that, but it’s going to take everyone to do that, and we implore you to make that happen.”

Salamandra said that it wasn’t the number of students taken to the hospital that concerned the administration.

“Again, 900 people were at the semiformal and we’re talking about six students – it’s a small percentage,” he said. “But even if it’s one student, we’re concerned. We don’t want one student to be injured in any way. We feel that it’s important that we have a message that’s loud and clear that we’ve tried hard to work with students and the individuals who were planning the parties. Even if one student ended up going to the hospital, as far as I’m concerned, it’s too much.”

Salamandra said that ambulances that took students to area hospitals arrived at around the same time the party was shut down.

“From what I understand is that it was some of the other students at the party who were calling the ambulances, it was students who were worried about their friends,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always been so impressed with the young adults that are in this community is that you are always so good at watching out for each other, and this is a case of that,’” Salamandra said. “What did concern me is that the community didn’t help their friends understand that binge drinking, quick consumption of alcohol, is a problem. It concerns me that alcohol is one of those things that people are not willing to take a stand on.”

KNBC also reported that intoxication at the event included the abuse of gamma-hydroxybutric acid, a central nervous system depressant. Neither the school nor KNBC could confirm the use of GHB.

“GHB is a nasty drug,” Salamandra said. It’s a nervous system depressant — for someone to be taking that especially mixed with alcohol, can literally shut down the lungs from operating. If one person even combines a drink and GHB and they stop breathing, that’s a very serious situation.

Huybrechts said no decision had been made about whether to cancel Senior Prom.

“Some kids behaved in such a way at [last year’s] prom that the hotel that had the prom won’t have us back,” she said.

Huybrechts said that prom will only be held if it can be a “safe and sane prom.”

The Head and Senior Prefects held a meeting during senior class meeting on Monday in Chalmers where all seniors were invited to “begin to draft a better and safer prom,” they said in an e-mail to the senior class.

The Head and Senior Prefects held a meeting during senior class meeting on Monday in Chalmers where all seniors were invited to “begin to draft a better and safer prom,” they said in an e-mail to the senior class.

“As we learned in the all-school assembly last week, the Senior Prom will only happen if substantial changes take place,” the e-mail said.

Head Prefect Chris Holthouse said that there was no framework for what needs to be changed for prom. He said the meeting in Chalmers was an opportunity to voice ideas.