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Student Section Faces Backlash

Senate works to gain privileges back


Students cheer on the soccer team this fall while dressed in their construction theme gear (Zoe Phend)

It’s a no-brainer that athletics play a major role in the community surrounding our school. District-wide athletic events such as the Patriot football game and volleyball Dig Pink game aid in connecting the community as one, whether West’s opponents come from the other side of town or travel from hours away. After previously winning the 2022 Battle of the Fans contest in a tough competition surrounding other high schools in Michigan, things seemed like it could only go up from there. After all, student sections are meant to be a positive and engaging environment when cheering on our student-athletes. For years, the Student Senate here at school has taken the reins when it comes to the student section and the decision of the theme regarding the game in question. Infamous themes here at school such as construction, shrub and green and gold, all actively engage students and encourage them to become involved in our sections. But this year, some of the themes faced some backlash among both students and surrounding community members. 

  “I was an assistant principal here before I was the principal. So I had to spend a little more time with the student section, way back when student sections here were not great. They were not positive. You had to have principals stand in front of them all the time and we would get rid of students from games like, pretty much every night,” Head Principal Joe Esper said. 

  Because student sections were not a positive part of the school community, it was decided that the Student Senate should take control of the situation at hand. 

  “It’s not always the way it was. The Senate kind of put some structure to it. Really like the main thing student Student Senate does it’s not so much picking a theme, but they need to just keep the student section engaged, you know, have some positive cheers,” Esper said. 

  Before this year, it hasn’t proved much of a problem when it comes to maintaining a positive school-environment during athletic events. But this year, things have changed.  

  “There was one game like during football season, and maybe two or three during basketball season, where we’ve had to kind of remind Senate or individual kids in the student section about what the expectations are,” Esper said. 

  Behavior in the student sections at school has been a major concern throughout our school this year, with some retaliation believed to have sprouted from certain game themes that were ultimately changed before game time. Outbursts such as inappropriate body language and derogatory comments have led to the dismissal from athletic events of multiple students so far this school year. 

  “From my observation, more of what issue becomes when they have to change the theme and isn’t necessarily what’s being picked as the theme. It’s about how they promote it. You know, like the most recent one that I flipped was the UK drill one, which they did last year. It was totally fine. Last year when they did it, some Senate kids dressed up and they kind of modeled it,” Esper said, “And this year, they took pictures off the internet of people that didn’t go to our school making hand signals that other people are interpreting as gun signs.” 

  Because of this, administration as well as the school board experienced backlash from surrounding community members concerning the Instagram post promoting the theme. 

  “But when students use social media to promote things, that trickles out to people like adults outside of our school. And adults often don’t know how to interpret stuff that teenagers engage in,” Esper said. “So, you know, [the] superintendent and the board got a lot of phone calls, [saying] ‘Why is the West doing a gang theme?” 

  Since the Student Senate is no longer allowed to choose our themes for athletic events, administration has taken matters into their own hands. 

  “Since we had a bunch of students that didn’t listen to the superintendent and the administration that said we couldn’t do the UK drill theme, we are now not allowed to pick our own themes and we have to go either talk to one of the principals or talk to some of the administration and they tell us which theme we’re doing,” junior Brady Vaughan said. 

  The UK drill theme was arguably the final straw for administration after they had overturned the idea, and there were few students that decided to show up dressed for the UK drill theme anyways. 

  “We’re basically just going to listen to administration. That way we can get our job that we used to do back, so we’re just going to basically listen to them until we are able to pick our themes again,” Vaughan said. 

  Some students suggest that some of the themes administration has chosen have been bland, or lacking the appeal of teenage students. Understandably, it can be hard for adults to reach or relate to the teenage audience. 

  “They pick some themes that are a little bit questionable, but they threatened to do a shape theme or just a color theme or fruit theme,” Vaughan said. “But overall, they’ve done not too bad of a job at picking themes.” 

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About the Contributor
Brynn Turnquist
Brynn Turnquist, Section Editor
Brynn Turnquist is a senior in her first year of newspaper. Brynn chose to take this class because she enjoys writing and editing, and is interested in journalism. As a student athlete, she plays on the WSH girls golf and TCU girls lacrosse team. Brynn also enjoys surfing and swimming in Long Lake, hiking, skiing in the winter months, and spending time with friends and family outside of school. 

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