No Light At The End Of This Tunnel - By Mike Lynch
Let me begin by declaring that I am a proud
graduate of Swampscott High School. Let me continue by declaring that I
am ashamed to learn of a "tradition" or "rite of passage" that has been
conducted at my alma mater for quite some time. Apparently it is
called the "tunnel." On the first day of school each year the seniors
form a tunnel and as the incoming freshmen arrive at school they proceed
through the "tunnel" only to be verbally abused, screamed at and
paddled. Yes, paddled.
Massachusetts has had an anti-hazing law
on the books since 1985. Legal or illegal, it's simply wrong. The
Swampscott administration claims there was no paddling this year and
that one student was disciplined for possession of a paddle. Funny I
watched my station, Channel 5, on the night of that disclaimer and
listened to a student look into the camera and state that he was
paddled. A different student claimed on Channel 7 that he was paddled as
well. My stomach began to turn when another student stated that all
this attention has ruined it for the junior class which probably won't
get to form the tunnel next year. Another resident went on camera and
unsympathetically scolded those that complained that if they didn't like
it they should have used a side entrance to the school.
Brilliant - that solves the problem.
administration conceded that the event does take place, it is condoned
and the school does provide an alternate entrance for those who do not
want to participate in the tunnel. Hello? A former Swampscott principal
has been quoted as saying that the tunnel "is not hazing, it's a rite of
passage." How can we expect a senior to demonstrate leadership when a
principal thinks abusing incoming freshmen is part of the high school
experience? Cut this any way you choose, but this is hazing and
bullying. Picking on someone younger or smaller in size is bullying.
There isn't an athlete anywhere on the planet that would tolerate an
opposing player picking on a younger or smaller teammate on the field,
court or ice - so why is it acceptable in the school hallway? Hey
Swampscott, do us all a favor and close this tunnel forever.