Author: Emma Shuster
Hazing is defined as, “the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation.” High school and College sports teams and clubs often haze new members as a way to initiate them into the program.
Typically, hazing involves having the individual dress up in a funny outfit or perform a silly act. However, students at Damascus High School took hazing to a whole new level. On November 1, 2018 three students from the junior varsity football team were arrested on one count of second-degree rape and one count of attempted second-degree rape. The following day, an additional two students were arrested, one with three counts of second-degree rape and the other with one count of attempted second-degree rape. These actions allegedly took place in the boys locker-room with a broomstick.
While it has not been decided if the coaches will be placed on leave, the police are aware of the situation and are working with the staff of Damascus High School to ensure that similar actions do not take place in the future. They are currently investigating if there has been an ongoing atmosphere of hazing at the school and if this incident has been a tradition or one-time action.
In a video sent out to MCPS students, MCPS’ Superintendent Jack Smith said, “bullying, harassment, hazing, verbal and physical abuse, whether in classrooms, hallways, sports or any extracurricular activity will not be tolerated in our schools.”
As noted in the Montgomery County Public Schools Code of Conduct, hazing is considered a serious offense and is not taken lightly. However, this is not hazing, this is sexual assault. Yes, the boys will recover from this incident physically, but will never recover mentally. The team and coaches should have paid further consequences rather than only forfeiting their final game of the season.
“I am shocked this happened because I have never heard of it hazing taking place at Damascus. I am very upset by this situation and feel horribly for the victims. During my time at Damascus, I was never aware of any hazing incidents taking place before this one. If this is a new form of hazing, it has definitely been taken to an extreme,” said a former Damascus High school student.