Winter formal withheld: Both sides of the story

By Ally Grimaldi, Copy Editor

The Student Body is Angered by Winter Formal’s Cancellation

Seething scowls. Towering tears. Furious ferment. The Cleveland student body’s resounding cries of uproar shatter through the walls in the face of the second year cancellation of the winter semi-formal.

Why are students being deprived of their treasured high school memories? According to Vice Principal Kevin Taylor, Homecoming 2015 was waged as a test for the student body as to whether or not winter semi-formal would return after last year’s cancellation. However, due to financial difficulties, conduct, and issues with adherence to pick-up policy, this year’s dance was called off. These reasons may be good enough for administration, but students are livid at the precarious and unjust circumstances.

Firstly, Homecoming is a poor assessment of behavior. It’s no exaggeration—Homecoming brings out the beast in everyone, and the student body knows it. This is perhaps why so many people forgo the dance anyway…a giant, sweaty mosh-pit is not favorable for everyone. Certainly atmosphere plays a hefty role in expectations for behavior and decency. Students mirror the ambiance—if a dance is vulgar and informal, dance-goers will reflect that impudence in their behaviors.

These correlations between atmosphere and behavior are also applicable to formal dances. Formality sets up certain expectations and standards that informal dances skirt around. At a formal dance, there is an air of pressure for students to act appropriately and respect the nature of the atmosphere. A formal environment establishes standards for etiquette and propriety that are absent in informal dances. It’s simple: formal dances result in formal behavior because of the societal expectations that are ingrained into the connotations of the event. The student body prefers formal dances over informal ones anyway. A Clarion poll found that nearly 75 percent of voters would pick a winter semi-formal dance over a homecoming dance.

Furthermore, choice in music plays a cardinal role in manners of behavior. The basis of dancing is to move one’s body to the rhythm of the beat. If the DJ blasts crude music, the dancing will reflect that music. Playing different types of music will not only generate a much different crowd, but it will also produce much different styles of dancing. Besides, not everyone likes “teen music,” anyway. I would not mind an ‘80s throwback dance myself.

Cancelling the winter semi-formal, the only classy dance Cleveland actually has that is available to the entire student body, is not only a major offensive to students, it’s frivolous. Instead of punishing the few offenders who did not get picked up on time at Homecoming or the individuals who were carted away by the police at the 2014 winter semi-formal, 1,700 people are being robbed of their memories for the second consecutive year. Cancelling winter semi-formal will not change the behaviors of these inconsiderate students, it will only postpone their ability to inconvenience others. This is not how a functioning society works. In the real world, individuals are held accountable for their actions, not full-scale communities. I did not participate in the heinous actions at the 2014 winter semi-formal, and nor did 99 percent of the student body, yet we are still reaping the consequences of other people’s brash decisions.

According to Gresham High School senior Madilyn Pearson, the Gresham school district might have as many as six dances open to the entire student body during any given year. This is including a junior prom, which has been absent within Cleveland traditions for who knows how long, but that is an entirely different can of worms. Cleveland has two yearly dances open to the entire student body, and it seems as if it’s becoming an annual tradition to cancel one of them. It is imperative for the administration to consider the unjust and detrimental actions of cancelling winter semi-formal. The way to “teach us a lesson” is not by robbing 1,700 people of their winter semi-formal. We will not be left to reap the consequences of other people’s reckless and tactless choices. If the administration wants change, so be it.

This Needs to Stop

It’s the cardinal rule of kindergarten: Don’t touch others without their permission. This concept is so hammered and ingrained into our heads at five that the idea of respecting others’ space bubbles should still be ricocheting around in our minds. Yet, once kids bypass their crayons, juice boxes, and teletubbies toys and move onto greater horizons, the animalistic instinct within them blatantly abandons this basic understanding of respect for one another. The primary example? A high school dance.

High school means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it is a center for triumph and success, and for others it is a place for mopping up the tears of an emotional roller coaster. Whatever high school means to you, it is a fundamental right for safety to never feel compromised in a school-based atmosphere. Ideally, every other place should bestow this level of indispensable comfort, though we know that this is not always the case.

A high school dance can and should be a convivial center for social interaction and amusement. It should feel special, inviting, and elegant, a treasured memory that students will cherish. Unfortunately, we have to remember that the students in question are high schoolers, who tend to behave like beasts all year round, especially in the face of Jane Austen-like moments.

We laugh about our barbarous behaviors, but this is a very serious issue. Groping, touching without consent, ripping people’s clothing off their bodies … . This is not a laughing matter. This is sexual assault, a crime punishable by years locked behind bars and irreparable damage to another person’s wellbeing and safety. There is no justification, no excuse, and no acquittal for this disgusting act of violence, and Cleveland is taking a stand against it.

Sadly, it has come to a point where the administration cannot trust students to act appropriately at dances. Cleveland has been forced to adopt a “once a beast, always a beast” policy, which is entirely justified considering our history with dances. It is ironic—if we acted like normal, decent human beings, and showed the slightest amount of respect towards one another, we would not have to sacrifice our dances. Unfortunately, the student body must reap the consequences of this atrocious and destructive behavior. We are to blame. So until we reach a resolution to rectify these severe and growing concerns, our dances will continue to be withheld.

Certainly, withholding the winter semi-formal sucks more than anyone can say. Sure, it is unfair and inconvenient for most of the student body. But in no way, shape, or form will this kind of abuse and desecration be allowed from any of our students. The administration will not compromise the safety of anyone to enrich the memories of others, and Cleveland will not tolerate this abhorrent disrespect and violation. Anything otherwise is unjustifiable.