T-shirts with ‘list’ cause commotion
Initiation turns sour at Moffat County High School as five seniors wear shirts hazing others
August 30, 1999
Craig — In a first-day-of-school ritual, a group of Moffat County High School (MCHS) seniors took the idea of initiation to possible extremes. A group of senior girls pinpointed a group of other girls Wednesday and printed their names on T-shirts next to derogatory remarks.
The T-shirts are part of a tradition at MCHS. In past years, signs had been placed throughout the school proclaiming similar statements to those printed on the the shirts and pranks such as “egging” middle school students or putting “For Sale” signs in the MCHS lawn have also been common. Due to events last April at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., the T-shirt incident may be more detrimental than pranks of the past.
Apparently, a group of about 15 to 20 senior girls wore homemade T-shirts proclaiming their seniority. Not a harmless slogan, just a simple one “Senior Girls 2000.” But some in the group took the shirt to another level by writing names of 10 girls seven freshman, two juniors and one senior next to uncomplimentary comments proclaiming ideas such as promiscuity.
This apparent “list” has been around for years, with different underclassmen on the receiving end. Each year a new list is made and seniors making the list have more than likely been on someone else’s list at one time or another.
Girls with the extra writing on the shirts have been talked to by MCHS Principal Joel Sheridan. He wants the girls to make amends with girls who have been hurt by the list.
“We are working with them and trying to show them how serious this really is,” Sheridan said. “We are dealing with this on an informal basis and trying not to hurt those involved even more.”
Recommended Stories For You
The punishment so far has been a letter of apology to girls on the list.
Hazing students is a small part of the history of initiation at MCHS, but when people are defamed there is a problem. According to Sheridan, appropriate steps had been taken to prevent the annual activity, but the school was not prepared for the T-shirt incident.
“Kids can be kids, but they don’t think things are as bad as they really are,” Sheridan said. “Our primary motive is to get the students to understand the feelings they actually conjured.”
According to students such as seniors Sarah Wallace and Alicia Bower, the T-shirts are no different from previous pranks.
“All classes before us have done this and it was much worse then,” Wallace said. “Why didn’t they do something before when kids were getting beat up?”
Bower, who wore a shirt without a list on it, believes the tradition should be taken in a non-threatening manner and that next year the tradition will continue.
“Next year, it may not be T-shirts, but they will make a list to keep the tradition,” Bower said.
Wallace, who wore a shirt with a list, said the girls on the list were friends or acquaintances of hers and both girls said some school staff members did read the shirt and did not do anything about it. To Wallace, the list contains popular girls. They were eventually told to turn the shirts inside out. Other students believe the whole T-shirt idea is nothing new and if something is going to be done, it should have happened long ago.
“As a freshman and sophomore, my friends and I were on ‘the list,’ said an MCHS senior who asked not to be identified. “We lived through it and they lived through their first day. I have no scars and they won’t either. This has been going on forever and it is not going to stop.”
Concerned parents have a different opinion.
Some parents want to see disciplinary action taken against the girls who wore the T-shirts with the list.
Moffat County School District Board of Education President Alman Nicodemus does not feel the board needs to become involved in the T-shirt issue. According to Nicodemus, the board only becomes involved in issues with students when an expulsion takes place.
The Student Code of Conduct from the Board of Education states “the principal may suspend or recommend expulsion of a student who engages in one or more of the following specific activities while in a school building, on school grounds, in school vehicles or during a school-sponsored activity.” Of the list of 18 specific activities in the code, two relate to the T-shirt incident. They include: “Directing profanity, vulgar language or obscene gestures toward other students, school personnel or visitors to the school,” and “Engaging in verbal abuse, i.e., name calling, ethnic or racial slurs, or derogatory statements addressed publicly to others that precipitate disruption of the school program or incite violence.”
According to Nicodemus, the punishment should depend on the ultimate motive of the students.
“We treat each case according to a specific manner,” Nicodemus said when asked if the girls should be expelled or suspended. “It depends on whether it was meant in a malicious manner or a joking manner.”
Wallace and Bower both said the T-shirts were meant as a joke and the shirts were worn for fun.