A Winter Semi-Formal for Cleveland
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Cleveland students will celebrate their first dance of the year on Dec. 2 with a winter semi-formal, following the postponement of the homecoming dance in September and the longtime cancellation of the winter formal.
After hearing the concerns of students about sexual assault and misconduct at dances, the leadership class made the decision to withhold the homecoming dance until changes could be made to improve the culture at dances.
“The hope is that we can change things with this dance and show our student body and our administrator and parents and everyone involved that we can overcome the issues that have come up in the past,” said Activities Director Eric Mirsepassi.
One of the most notable changes is that students wishing to attend the dance must sign a pledge promising to uphold respectful and safe conduct at the dance. “It’s got definitions of what consent and sexual assault are and what constitutes those things. It’s got some pieces about what to do if you see something going on and how to approach that situation,” explained Mirsepassi. “It also has suggestions for dance attire.”
The dance is a semi-formal, so students are asked to wear dress pants, slacks, shirts, and ties (or bowties), along with nice dresses and/or blouses.“We all really wanted to make [the dance] more than a casual event, but that came up with the problem of kids in our community who can’t afford to go buy something nice or who don’t already have something nice,” said Ashley Lytle, senior and member of the leadership class. In response to this issue, Lytle organized a clothing fundraiser with the help of the student body presidents Carlin MacMillan and Tori Tefft, as well as the entirety of the leadership class.“We’re hoping it changes the attitude towards the dance a little,” said Lytle.
“You act in a different way when you have to get dressed up,” concluded Mirsepassi.
Students who bring in clothes to donate from Nov. 14 to Dec 2nd will receive one dollar off of their ticket to the dance. Businesses around the community also partnered with Cleveland. The membership-based clothing swap boutique Shwop donated clothes, racks and hangers and Red Fox Vintage has provided clothes in addition to those brought by students.
The leadership class is partnering with the Raphael House, a domestic violence agency, to provide educational seminars on consent and sexual assault that dance attendees will be encouraged to attend. Additional efforts include training chaperones on their role in the dance and even talking to the DJ about his role in the evening. “He came in and met with us and talked to us about the role of students in this and how he can help prevent some of this from happening and make the atmosphere really fun,” said Mirsepassi.
Mirsepassi concluded, “The hope is that it’s like training wheels— once the culture is established we won’t need to have all these things in place all the time.”