Opinion

Fallout from senior prank more than just cleanup

Where is the line between a harmless tradition and vandalism? 

This is a question that Class of 2021 seniors failed to consider during the senior prank which took place on Nov. 5. Without any past guidance about where this line existed, seniors allowed a prank to escalate as possible pent up anger and frustrations arose. However, the reaction from school staff, parents and community members to the prank only escalated the situation and unnecessarily criticized the senior class.

For decades, Bexley seniors have made it a tradition to cover the trees surrounding the high school entrance in toilet paper. In this strange pandemic year where events like homecoming, football games and most other academic, athletic and school activities had been canceled, TP-ing the school was a tradition that seniors felt they would finally get the chance to participate in. However, some seniors took this prank too far, covering the front entrance of the school with orange juice, eggs, and Flex Seal.

The extent to which the seniors carried out the senior prank was excessive and potentially dangerous. However, the situation was handled incorrectly by school administration, which created a panic, as intimidating emails and robocalls were sent home to frightened parents and students the following day, and students were threatened with having their future colleges notified that they had committed vandalism.

Never before had students been punished on such a large scale for TP-ing the school, throwing eggs, stealing signs or moving benches around to temporarily block the school entrance. For years, this tradition has carried on with seniors being forced to clean up the next morning, a trend that 2021 seniors thought would continue.

This year was different. According to B group seniors, only small groups were permitted outside to clean up at a time due to COVID policies. However, students felt social distancing policies could be maintained while students removed toilet paper from trees and moved school items back where they belonged.

 As a result of the excessive covering of the school in toilet paper and other materials, students were condemned in the Facebook group “The Bexley Buzz” by some parents, teachers and community members who questioned their privilege, their responsibility and their character as people. Students were also criticized for not cleaning up, but many felt like they weren’t given a fair opportunity to do so.

There is a reason behind why this year’s senior prank escalated the way it did: seniors in the time of COVID-19 are dealing with an experience like none other. Forced to juggle college applications, sports and extracurricular involvements, all while participating in hybrid school with no benefits of the “senior year experience,” feelings of stress and resentment can easily surface.

Although this prank was taken too far by students, the reaction by the school administration and the community caused needless drama and relentlessly criticized seniors. Many people are frustrated by the current situation regarding COVID-19, and pent up emotions from throughout the year only escalated the drama surrounding a harmless tradition. Despite the damage caused and outrage from the community, TPing the school is still a harmless prank and a fun tradition that should be continued for future classes.

Matthew Cohn
Matthew Cohn is a senior at Bexley High School and a Feature editor on The Torch.