Archive for Friday, September 26, 2008

LHS sophomore sent home for wearing ‘hazing’ outfit

A sophomore girl was sent home from LHS this morning for participating in an invitation-only prank.

September 26, 2008


A Lawrence High School girl on Friday found herself caught between prankster-playing seniors and school administrators.

Sophomore Tori Hawk, 16, showed up for school dressed "bizarre-looking," according to a note from one of her teachers.

Hawk said she was ordered to dress that way by seniors who were participating in an old tradition called SWAS, which stands for "sophomores worship all seniors."

"A senior tells you to do something, you are supposed to do it," Hawk said. "Some people are told to dress weird."

Hawk's bizarre dress included a swimsuit and tank tops, a skirt, leggings, volleyball socks and sandal-type shoes.

Hawk was pulled out of class after a teacher notified the principal's office. An assistant principal told her she had to go home and change her clothes. That meant calling her mother, Lori Nation, who had to leave work and pick up her daughter.

"It's fun for everybody and not meant to be mean," Hawk said. "If it was mean, the sophomores wouldn't do it."

But if a sophomore doesn't follow a senior's directions, there's an implication that there will be consequences, Hawk said.

Students had been warned not to participate in SWAS activities, Hawk and LHS Principal Steve Nilhas said. A few students earlier in the week also were asked not to come dressed the same way again, Nilhas said. He didn't know of anyone other than Hawk being sent home to change, however.

Nilhas described SWAS as a bad habit that needed to be broken.

"No matter how people want to spin it, SWAS is a hazing activity," he said. "Asking kids to dress up in ways that are demeaning is not appropriate, even if the kids themselves who are being asked to dress up think it's OK."

Nation was upset because, she said, the high school had not notified parents last week that the weird clothing would not be tolerated and that SWAS might surface.

Nilhas said he understood Nation's concerns. There had not been problems with SWAS incidents in recent years, but it might be necessary to be more proactive against it, he said.


Deja Coffin 8 years, 10 months ago

Be a parent? All parents aren't supposed to go to work until after 8:15am? Some parents of high schoolers have jobs and can't sit there and lay their childs clothing out for them each night.

workinghard 8 years, 10 months ago

Boy, I see worse than that go into LHS every day, I don't see anything that bad about it.

workinghard 8 years, 10 months ago

For that matter, I see worse going into the elementary schools.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 10 months ago

tell the seniors to kick rocks and ignore them. and as for sending this girl home get a grip people at least she had cloths covering her up unlike the normal hs girls in warm weather when you can see just about everything.

triplegoddess13 8 years, 10 months ago

No but you can teach common sense and responsibility so they think about consequences before they act.

Nikki May 8 years, 10 months ago

See, I could see my kid wearing that because she wanted to. But whatever.

Corey Keizer 8 years, 10 months ago

That outfit is harmless! I went to LHS, and I never got sent home for dress code, even for the shirt I used to rock that said "Power stems from the barrel of a gun" I'd think that's much more troubling

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

Would someone please tell me what part of dressing funny constitutes hazing?

Terry Jacobsen 8 years, 10 months ago

This wasn't about punishing the girl for her outfit. It was about stopping the hazing. Bullying and hazing should not be tolerated anywhere, especially in the public school system. Thank you Mr. Niilhas for recognizing that any type of hazing is bad. I have had one son graduate from LHS and another who is there currently. Mr. Nilhas is a very good administrator. He is great with the kids and he is an excellent decision maker. Any attempt to paint him as some sort of censorship minded individual is a false accusation by someone who doesn't know anything about LHS or Steve Nilhas.

BrianR 8 years, 10 months ago

Gee whiz, I dress like that every day.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

SWAS_Momma (Anonymous) says: "the more I think about your comments the more ticked off I get. You judgemental people drive me nuts. Always judging others and calling them names. You sound like a bully to me."Coming from someone who claims to have founded a tradition named Sophomores Worship All Seniors. Um, okay.

Deja Coffin 8 years, 10 months ago

Why not have guidelines for SWAS. Apparently banned or not, they're going to do it. So send home guidelines of what is appropriate and what will not be tolerated with each senior, sophomore, and mail it to the parents. Everyone stays informed and if someone does not want to be a part of it, they don't have to. Even have students who DO want to do it, sign a piece of paper understanding what they can and can't do. We think we're helping kids by taking away whole situations for exceptions but really we're just giving them reasons to be sneaky and do things recklessly without understanding.

triplegoddess13 8 years, 10 months ago

I agree that this is about the hazing and not about her outfit. If hazing is a concern at this stage then what stops it from just getting bigger and nastier as they get older. The fact that she was the only one sent home for this does seem to be a problem and parents don't need a note from the school warning them of this kind of activity. If your kid is dressing in a strange manner ask questions and make them change their clothes. Do you really think the school would sanction such an event? Grow up and be a parent for crying out loud!

del888 8 years, 10 months ago

Seems to me that they sent the wrong person home. If you want to stop the hazing, you should have sent the seniors home.

Terry Jacobsen 8 years, 10 months ago

For your information, I'm as conservative as they come, and I certainly am not left of center at all. In fact just to prove my point... I'd vote for George Bush again! However, that isn't the discussion at this juncture. Any type of hazing is bad, just like any type of bullying is bad. As I said, you don't know anything about LHS or Steve NIlhas, if you are suggesting that he is censoring this girls clothing.

compmd 8 years, 10 months ago

Now that I actually went and looked at how she was dressed, I can honestly say that when I went to high school, girls showed up dressed kinda like this normally.

KansasPerson 8 years, 10 months ago

My problem with this isn't whether it's hazing or not -- it's just that it's kinda stupid.if you're going to go to the trouble of matching up seniors and sophomores, why not make it for something useful? Focus on study skills, or making them feel welcome in the school in a meaningful way, or teaching them how to carry on traditions of treating others honorably, or something like that?Bishop Seabury has a program where each senior is matched up as a "mentor" to a new student. Works pretty well so far.

Escapee 8 years, 10 months ago

Wow! Good ol' Lawrence! I remember when my girls did this at LHS, and although they had fun and no one was seemingly hurt by it -- I have to agree with the principal's action in this incident.Times have changed at LHS and everywhere else. I also remember my daughters being bullied. Seriously bullied. At LHS. And NO ONE making any attempt to intervene even though it was clear that certain teachers knew it was happening. That really, really p***ed me off! Being a high school principal in many communities is probably a thankless job. Lawrence being 'one of those'. LHS embodies a very diverse student population to be sure, and we can also be sure that those same students come from a variety of homefronts. Some don't believe in discipline at all. While others seem to want their students to graduate with honors in record time. Still others fill the middle of the road -- sometimes knowing what goes on at school, and other times...not. Administrators are charged with providing a 'one size fits all' policy/rulebook that not everybody will agree with. That's life. Go to a public school, there must be rules for ALL to abide by.This particular incident is about setting a precedent. Let me say it again: this particular incident is about setting a precedent.We all know that for years sororities and fraternities of all sorts conducted 'hazing' activities. When it was evident that many of these activities bordered on, or actually became dangerous, those in charge acknowledged that play had gone too far. This incident is sort of the minor league version from the same playbook in my opinion. I think the principal was right to step in and draw the line. I am, however, a little surprised that only one girl was reprimanded. Certainly others were involved in other SWAS activities. Why weren't they, also, reprimanded? Or were they??? At any rate, I think he's right to acknowledge that often kids at this age don't make the connection about hazing types of behaviors. It isn't right to allow one group of students to reign over another -- no matter the cause. There are enough problems with the public schools in this country without condoning any type of activity that borders on bullying of any sort. It's a major, major, major issue...and if you don't think so...imagine your kid being the target of something dangerous and mean and that you have no ally within those walls to help keep your child safe. It's not fun. Been there. Done that.

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

I don't know what their definition of hazing is. I have not seen the policy. I would call things like the football team locking sophomore football players in lockers and peeing on them hazing or duct taping them to the goal post. Those things are hazing but things involving male athletes never seem to rate with the administration and make it into the paper. Do you think that if this were a boy wearing silly clothing he would have been sent home to change and we would be reading about it in the paper? I doubt it. How is dressing silly hazing?My worries about what's going on at LHS have nothing to do with SWAS week. There are many other things that go on there that worry me far more.

Brett Hansen 8 years, 10 months ago

You know, if you want to stop hazing activities, don't punish the person BEING hazed. Punish the people DOING the hazing (the seniors). Sophomores doing WHATEVER they're told to do for a week? This can quickly get out of hand if it is not stamped out immediately, but don't punish the person BEING's not their fault.

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

As the founder of SWAS 13 years ago (let the stoning begin) and mother of two, I think everyone is taking this a little too seriously. There is nothing harmful about dressing like that. No physical harm comes to these girls and they think it is funny too. Give me a break. The Seniors are not asking them to do anything illegal and if it is that horrible why do those "hazed" sophomores participate in it when they are Seniors. When this was started Seniors chose a Sophomore as their SWAS buddy. If the Sophomores don't want to do it, then don't. This is not about someone beating you up or something like that. These girls are friends. They make them do silly things. I made my SWAS buddy bake a cake for the Assistant Principal. He called me into his office to tell me how we shouldn't be doing these things. Of course it didn't hold a lot of water when his teeth were stained red from the icing on the cake my SWAS buddy made him. At the end of the week the girls got a shirt that said "I survived SWAS week".Find something better to complain about like all the crap the athletes do to each other- like the drinking "team bonding" parties. Physical harm does come to them, like going to the hospital to get your stomach pumped.There are far worse things happening at LHS than this. How about the girls that corner other girls in the bathroom to try to get them to have sex with them? No one has a problem with this type of intimidation?

pissedinlawrence 8 years, 10 months ago

The girl is dumb for dressing like that. Use your own mind to wear what you want, not what someone tells you to.

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

tunahelper 8 years, 10 months ago

go up onto the KU campus and see all the freaks there!

reason 8 years, 10 months ago

this time i do agree with the principal--if he doesn't put a stop to this minor hazing , what will happen next , it could be a tragedy--hazing is hazing and should not be tolerated,by the way i went to LHS and as a sophmore i did not kiss any seniors ass!!!

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

Luxor- the more I think about your comments the more ticked off I get. You judgemental people drive me nuts. Always judging others and calling them names. You sound like a bully to me. Why would you try to talk about my daughter negatively? Think what you want about what I did, but why are you insulting and making judgements on her. I can say with 100% certainty that she has never bullied anyone- she is 11 mos old! This is what I am talking about, judging people and calling them names. What you do is just as bad a bulling. Get off your high horse and stop judging everybody else for whatever has happened to you and your daughter. And for your information I was bullied as a kid. Try being the fat kid in school.By the way I am also still friends with my SWAS Buddy.

triplegoddess13 8 years, 10 months ago

Things like this incident are only a starter for what can become worse. It might start out as fun and games but it can rapidly turn into those drinking parties that do cause damage and harm in the end. A little power trip goes a long way with some people, doesn't matter how 'nice' they may seem.

Luxor 8 years, 10 months ago

It's always the mean girls who say they're not being mean. Why were you so insecure that you felt the need to start a tradition of hazing other girls? Or do you and your daughters think that you're so important that you have the right to mistreat others? You obviously feel no remorse, and I'll bet that there are a lot of girls that you and your daughters have bullied who are too scared to come out and say that it wasn't "Fun," that they went along because they knew how badly they'd be bullied later on if they didnt go along. BUllying is bullying and you started a whole tradition of doing it, and now you're acting like you aren't part of the whole culture that thinks that bullying in any form in unacceptable.

Professor_Marvel 8 years, 10 months ago

Palin glasses would have been cruel and unusual.

Alexander Neighbors 8 years, 10 months ago

either make a Dress code for everyone or no one

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 10 months ago

The point that many of you are missing is that hazing, in general, has a tendency to get out of control. People die. No, they don't die because they were wearing odd clothes, they die because harmless hazing devolves into harmful hazing. So, for that (good) reason, all hazing is forbidden.

blakus 8 years, 10 months ago

SWAS is dumb. As a male who went to LHS, I thought less of anyone who thought they had to participate in this crap because at the end of the day it is all about conformity and being someone's b*$@h.

Luxor 8 years, 10 months ago

SWAS Mamma, I remember girls like you from high school. You were mean, and you raise mean daughters.

Luxor 8 years, 10 months ago

What I don't get is why they didn't send the bitchy seniors home instead of this girl.

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

Like I said no one was trying to be mean. If the Sophomores were so hurt by it they wouldn't have continued doing it. There truely are bullies at LHS that torment the weak and do horrible things to other kids. This is not what we are talking about.

AnglNSpurs 8 years, 10 months ago

I agree with SWAS Momma.When I was a sophomore I participated in SWAS... let me see what did we have to do... - Sunday - Propose to a Senior Guy (Ususally a football player)- Monday - wear a goofy outfit to school-Tuesday - Dress like our Senior-Wednesday - Goofy Shirt Day and Sernade the FB Team- Thursday - Crazy Hair and Make UP- Friday - To the Football game with our buddyHonestly, I never felt threatened by my buddy or any other senior and I am pretty sure no one else did as well. Heck I found it a good way to meet other people in my grade as well as the school - I am still real good friends with my buddy.Now when I was a SR. I had 2 girls- Never Ever where they forced to do anything they didnt want to, and they had a blast - We did the same activities as when I was a Soph, but we made our buddies wear a button that says I love my Sr. (NAME). Infact we had to change the name that year to make Patterson happy - Seniors Welcome All Sophomores.I think it is a great way to meet people in HS, and nothing is done to harm the girls, and is not done by "Mean Girls" either. Have you all seen Dazed and Confused? At least we didnt paddle them or make them do air raids.

Quigly 8 years, 10 months ago

Once again I am amazed at unbelievable stories that make it into this newspaper. It just amazes myself and the others here that the LJworld acts like a bunch of grade school kids. Not high school, grade school people. What kind of business are you people running? Morons. BREAKING NEWS!!!!!! Cows got out and poops on lawn. BREAKING NEWS!!!!!! Dog pees on truck tire: Man very upset.

mom_of_three 8 years, 10 months ago

The school has told the kids not to do it, and yet seniors and sophomores still do it. If it is so harmless, then why does the adminstration want to stop it. And are they really trying to stop it? IF they want to stop it, then they need to punish the seniors and perhaps the sophomores. And stop believing the line "I lost a bet." No one dresses all in green, or orange or whatever.

Strontius 8 years, 10 months ago

I lived in a Scholarship Hall for two years at KU. We had similar "rites of passage", but we always had more respect for the people who were creative and found ways to dissent from the so called status quo, which we were all against in the first place. We were all adults, and the point was to have fun. When you start sending people home for "bizarre clothing", you invite some pretty unpleasant situations. What happens when a teacher sends a student home for the same reason, but that clothing has cultural or religious significance? Seems to me that teachers should be less concerned about the private lives of the students and more concerned about better ways to teach them in the first place. If the U.S. spent half the energy it spends on monitoring students' private lives as it does on education, we wouldn't be ranking so low among the other industrialized nations in educational performance.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 10 months ago

She's 16. She understands what "no" means. She wasn't "caught between" anything. Who matters more: other students or administrators? She wanted to please her peers rather than follow rules. There are consequences when one follows the crowd.Even my 2-year-old understands "no". This girl made a bad choice, and a fairly clear choice.And no, this isn't really "news". I'm guessing mom was the one who called the LJW. Hey mom: if your nearly adult daughter admits she broke the rules, maybe you should back the school instead of getting all red in the face over what is clearly YOUR own sense of embarrassment. You are teaching your daughter to avoid taking responsibility for her actions.

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

beobachter-Again with the negativity, insults and bullying. Do you have anything of substance or constructive to say?

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

Luxor,I knew girls like you in HS too. Always judging everyone else that didn't live up to their standards. Raising daughter who think their way is the only way.

Luxor 8 years, 10 months ago

The LHS principal is trying to establish an atmosphere of safety and respect. It's really hard to do that with high school kids, but it's important. To hear that people like SWASMomma have no respect for the policies that are in place to protect students from harassment and from letting hazing get a foothold where it can get out of hand is a sad statement on why schools have to have these kinds of policies in the first place.

TheEleventhStephanie 8 years, 10 months ago

When I was in school in 1995, I was the senior in a similar incident and I was the one suspened. My parents, normally quite strict, did not give a sh!t about it. Why? because this is ridiculous! As far as I recall, everyone lived to tell and laugh about it.

james bush 8 years, 10 months ago

It is discouraging that the local newspaper thinks we all should get involved when a school attempts to enforce its standards. What a joke that this newspaper thinks this disgruntled kid and her mommy are downtrodden and that the rest of us should get upset! The newsworthiness of this stinks!! Tthanks....NOT , ljw!

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

so, SWASmomma comes on, claiming to have started this, and defends it. the principal says this practice is outlawed by their policy, in print. so, does SWASMomma have a reading problem? is her real problem with the authority at LHS? does she think her judgment is superior to the entire USD497 admin? so, on her sayso just toss that little inconvenient bit of text? hmmm.

Strontius 8 years, 10 months ago

Beobatcher:1. If it was inappropriate dress, then that should have been clearly stated with reference to the school dress code. Looking at the picture, I don't see anything wrong with the outfit. It's not too revealing, and there are more "bizarre" outfits on people walking down Mass street on any given day. 2. It doesn't matter whether or not she/they (the students) are legally adults. In fact, what is an "adult" legally anymore? 18? 21? Regardless, it doesn't really matter. High School students are entitled to constitutional civil rights. There are more than 50 years of Supreme Court cases to affirm this.3. I was using the scholarship hall reference as an example of how my experiences were not too dissimilar to this young woman's, and yet, we suffered no ill effects as a result. In fact, I took five years to graduate college because I had three majors and a minor. Just because you asked, after my Sophomore year, I chose live on my own after two years of communal living, followed by cohabitation with my future (now) wife who was another scholarship hall resident herself. I would like to think I'm well educated, though I'm constantly learning new things that only teach me how much more I have to learn.

Hilary Morton 8 years, 10 months ago

There is a definite NO HAZING rule outlined in the handbooks and planners the high schoolers receive. This was no surprise to the girl that she was going against the rules. That is, of course, unless she didn't read the rules and regulations, which is quite possible. Not each home needs to receive a personal phone call or visit from the principal to know the rules. They just need to read the booklet sent home every year.SWAS lives on, but they just don't want it happening at the building, during the school day.

RKLOG 8 years, 10 months ago

What? Were her socks the wrong color?? WHo cares?!!!

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

brianr,you dress like that? including the swim suit top? ooooooooooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! The girl is dumb for dressing like that. Use your own mind to wear what you want, not what someone tells you to.---the girl is a sophomore! give her a break! I'm so glad all of you didn't do dumb stuff when you were 15-16, sophomores! oldy, I wondered that too, as the school wouldn't have put this to the paper! it does make me wonder about mommy dearest. if she is as we presume, she is part of the greatest problem with public schools: parents who don't support school disciplin, don't teach their kids right.

Larry Bauerle Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

If the hazing would become more severe, the posts here would be calling for the administration's head for not doing something earlier.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 10 months ago

SWAS Momma- The definition of hazing is very broad. The seniors are actually hazing by telling them to wear crazy, stupid or hooker clothing.Hazing doesn't have to be a physical act. If you are proud that you were part of a group that started this tradition, I can't wait to see what your kids are supposed to do during their sophomore year.For me, I will educate my kids on what the rules are and how to treat all people with respect.

Matt Toplikar 8 years, 10 months ago

LHS administrators need to grow up. Part of being an adult is realizing that silliness has its place in life. I've had three sisters that have been through S.W.A.S.-- Yes its stupid, but its also harmless. Give this girl a break.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 10 months ago

"Would someone please tell me what part of dressing funny constitutes hazing?"Pretty much sums up the problem here. Oldenough was on point.

SWAS_Momma 8 years, 10 months ago

notajayhawk- Give me a break. Your're going to try and discredit me for a name I came up with 13 years ago when I was 17. I'm talking about judgements and assumptions Luxor is making today, presumably, as an adult. Judge me for something I did when I was in HS but don't make judgements on my children. It's ironic that the girl doesn't view it as mean and her Mom isn't upset about SWAS, she is upset about the school sending her daughter home."It's fun for everybody and not meant to be mean," Hawk said. "If it was mean, the sophomores wouldn't do it."Get a grip people. This situation is NOT hazing or bullying. Just because you or your kids were bullied does not mean that is the situation here.

AlligatorMama 8 years, 10 months ago

I think this sorta takes it a bit far...I had a blast with SWAS week in highschool! It was fun, we had a great time and I made some great friends from the whole thing!As long as it's not taken too far, I don't see the problem! And I DON't see anything wrong with how she was dressed....I've seen much worse just on a day to day basis!

RKLOG 8 years, 10 months ago

What's demeaning is how they dress employees at fast food places. Why don't we send fast food managers home for hazing activities?

triplegoddess13 8 years, 10 months ago

The point isn't the clothing. The hazing stems from making someone do something as a rite of passage or to become part of a group and it can get out of control very quickly.hazing:1. To persecute or harass with meaningless, difficult, or humiliating tasks. 2. To initiate, as into a college fraternity, by exacting humiliating performances from or playing rough practical jokes upon. I do believe this task falls under the definition of hazing.

hawkchamps5 8 years, 9 months ago

SWAS is supose to be seniors welcome all sophmores. It's gotten out of hand.Its not the way she dressed that got her in trouble its the activity she was taking part in. Teachers have noticed other girls dressed for swas being embarressed about the way they dressed. The school just doesnt want sophmores feeling left out or embarressed. SWAS is not to happen in s chool that simple. What happens outside is so much worse.

Kaie11 8 years, 9 months ago

Many are saying LHS should worry about education not fashion. But you forget the difficulties an administrator has to deal with if they do nothing and look as though they support SWAS. The outside activities of SWAS which are worse are then brought back to the administrators and angry parents ask "Why did you let something like this happen? Why didn't you put a stop to SWAS?"Either way the administrators get killed on this issue. Don't say that it's a matter of them caring more about "fashion" than education.

ilovetorihawk69 8 years, 9 months ago

tori is a a sohopmore myself i didnt know what the whole thing was about you dont have to do anything you dont want to....and hows that sooo bad?alot of controversey has been brought up at the result of this she shouldnt of been to suspended like for real...they took it too far...

hawkchamps5 8 years, 9 months ago

she was suspended?I was pretty sure she was only sent home to change?

ilovetorihawk69 8 years, 9 months ago

she did get suspended cause she wouldnt rat out the senior

torihawkizamazing 8 years, 9 months ago

the whole situation was dumbIt's harmless fun for sophmoresAs a sophmore there was nothing wrongIt's just Funn

TORIMYLOVER 8 years, 9 months ago

For the information of the ppl who are worried about SWAS, dressing like this was the only SWAS activitie we participated in and there was no harm done, so it really wasnt that big of an issue

the_only_thawk 8 years, 9 months ago

way. me and my friend are tight and make lhs fun!! we were not hazing and the dude thats pissedinlawrence ur dumb so dont call me dumb. maybe you should be at work actually working and not calling a 16 year old dumb get a life and act ur own age.

TORIMYLOVER 8 years, 9 months ago

I was also dressed like Tori for SWAS on that day, along with the 2 seniors that told us to dress that way, i thought it was totally rediculous that she was sent home, and i would have gone home too but chose to just change at school. I think ppl should get to dress how they want. Have the administrators not seen how some ppl dress to school everyday?!

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