The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Rite Idea: New Policies, Safer School Events

After the arrest of nine students at Dec. 2 athletic contests, the administration is re-examining policies for fan behavior and crowd safety. We commend them for taking action instead of turning a blind eye on these issues, but we wish it hadn’t taken such a dramatic turn of events for new policies to emerge. 

Dec. 6, Principal Michael Griffith used the P.A. system to shed light on recent events that happened at hockey and men’s basketball games. Griffith concluded the announcement with a strong assertion: “If you don’t plan to come to the game, or the play, or any other activity, to support each other and our school, to display true Shaker spirit, in a positive, uplifting way, then, speaking for the majority, we prefer you don’t come.“

Strongly worded school-wide announcements regarding student participation in weekend events gone awry are not rare; in 2009 an announcement was made regarding inappropriate dancing at a school-sponsored dance. Yet, these announcements don’t always change fan behavior.

Shaker students often show up intoxicated to hockey games, assuming they won’t be penalized for their actions. With no policies in place to confront such behavior before games, it’s no surprise that students have attempted to push the limits of what they can get away with.

However, twice a year, for hockey games against St. Ignatius and University School, additional restrictions are imposed. Restrictions include allowing Shaker students to purchase only a single ticket and to purchase it only at school.

No bags can be brought into the rink, and spectators can be removed from Thornton Park if there is a major disruption. None of these rules stop fans from coming to the biggest games of the year, so there shouldn’t be an issue with the same rules about fan behavior applied at all games.

The decision to apply these rules to all hockey games will be beneficial, making hockey games a more enjoyable experience and will make the focus of the night the game, and our Shaker teams, rather than the drama in the stands.

During his announcement, Griffith spoke about how the administration is reconsidering school policies, but also that just looking at policies will not fix the problem. “While there’s much we can learn from reevaluating our practices, a lot of that conversation, I’m frankly going to say, is smoke and mirrors, nothing but excuses or denials of the fundamental issue,” Griffith said.

Acknowledgement of problems, no matter who the acknowledgement is from, and taking active measures to prevent them are huge steps in the right direction for Shaker. By asking disruptive students not to come to school functions and only come to support our school, Griffith is establishing a foundation for further actions.

Of course, these new school rules won’t be successful without student participation. It is our hope that, regardless of the rules in effect, the student body will continue to come to sporting events to support their school.

 A version of this article appeared in print on 14 December 2011, on page 6 of The Shakerite.

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