POV: Scary Responsibility

Katie Eckert, Copy Co-Editor

If there is one school-celebrated holiday that serves up parent complaints more than others, it is Halloween. From spooky decorations and costumes to freaky pumpkins and haunted houses, there are a lot of opportunities for one’s sensibilities to be offended. Especially at a school with students from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, what is determined to be acceptable for a majority of the school may still be too much for certain members to handle. How does one handle those situations? Whose responsibility is it to prevent people from feeling offended, and should the school be held responsible if something does go wrong?

Senior Gobind Singh feels that students and their parents need to take responsibility for themselves. “I think you should know what your limits are, especially for a school event,” he says. “Like, if it’s a haunted house, you’re going to see things.” While Singh may sympathize with the hypothetical student, he admits there is a level of accepted risk with Halloween activities. “I wouldn’t say it’s a consequence, but it’s just part of the experience. It sucks that that person got scared and had an issue with it, but at the same time you kind of let yourself become vulnerable to stuff like that.”

Sixth grader Madilynn Walter agrees, saying, “I don’t really think it’d be the school’s fault [if someone complained]. It’d just be the individual . . . They had a choice to [participate] or to not, so it’s not like they would be forced to [do something they didn’t want to].” 

Freshman Landon Farmer agrees, but he also feels that schools play a role in keeping Halloween activities from going too far. “I would say it should be the school’s responsibility to limit anything that’s really excessively scary, but at the same time there’s an expectation going into Halloween that you are going to be scared,” he says. For Farmer, it can also depend on what exactly the student is offended by. “If it was the decorations or pumpkins, I think that would fall onto the school. If it were about the costume, it would fall onto the student or parent. It’s a case by case thing.”

Seventh grader Hannah Billen, however, feels that parents should play an active role in preventing any incidents. “They should go to the parents first, and then if they approve they can go to the teachers.” She feels that each student should take it upon themselves to make sure their own costumes and decorations will not be too scary, dress code style. “Any teachers, if they see something that a student might find harmful, then they should ask people to take it off or down,” says Billen.

All that being said, most students agree that the school should play at least some role in remediating the situation once someone becomes upset. “I think a formal apology would be sufficient, and then [the school should] take some of the complaints into consideration for the next year,” says Singh.

Walter agrees. “If multiple parents complain about it or something, then just don’t do it as scary the next year,” she says.

Farmer feels that the number of complaints should inform the school’s actions. “If there are large scale complaints, I do think the school has a responsibility to change that, because in the end that would cause problems if even just a quarter of the student body was feeling scared,” he says. At the same time, he believes that students should make informed decisions for themselves before requiring the school to heavily censor Halloween activities. “Ultimately, if the school decides to shut down or heavily modify the haunted house, it makes everyone else not have as much fun.”

While it is important to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable at school, most students agree that students play the primary role in looking out for themselves during Halloween. Though Seabury usually does not have many problems in this area, incidents happen. No matter what, having a good understanding of your limits is a great way to prevent your fun from being spoiled during Halloween and other school activities, even if there is not anything to worry about.