The Tower Pulse

Towergate – A gathering turned scandal sweeps the school, leading to a lesson learned

The+tower+at+Grosse+Pointe+South.+Photo+by+Riley+Lynch+%2718.+
The tower at Grosse Pointe South. Photo by Riley Lynch '18.

The tower at Grosse Pointe South. Photo by Riley Lynch '18.

The tower at Grosse Pointe South. Photo by Riley Lynch '18.

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Last week, administration investigated the attendees of a student-led “Tower party” with underage drinking, which occurred on Sept. 23 and was uncovered the week of Oct. 16.

The party was hosted by a Tower student and included about 25 staff members.It was advertised as a “Tower party” but was not officially endorsed by the Tower.

According to principal Moussa Hamka, administration discovered this through multiple sources, but waited about a week before calling students down to the office in order to gather evidence.

“Some students were present and knew there was alcohol, and were intentionally in that presence, which is a violation. And per that code they received half the consequence of someone who drank,” Hamka said. “However there were a few, and not many, students who showed up not knowing that there was alcohol, and when they found out there was alcohol they left.”

According to Tower adviser, Kaitlin Edgerton, she was not aware of the event prior to being alerted by multiple parents. At which point Edgerton alerted South adminstration.

“I was completely shocked,” Tower adviser Kaitlin Edgerton said. “My trust in my students was betrayed. Honestly, attaching The Tower name to a party is not okay.”

According to Hamka, because the incident was off-campus, the student code of conduct was not in effect and could not be enforced. However, the extracurricular code of conduct, which applies to clubs and sports, is always in effect.

“A student intentionally being in the presence of illegal consumption, whether that’s drugs or alcohol or smoking, is in violation of that code,” Hamka said. “There are some consequences. Students are going to have to sit out a game; students might lose some leadership positions that they have in an activity or club.”

According to Tower leadership, the party did not have formal invitations, but spread through word of mouth and in group messages.

“We’ve come to know that students who were not a part of Tower were turned away and told to return at a later time,” Hamka said. “So this was a Tower-exclusive event to begin with, and sometime around 11:45 p.m., other students– not members of Tower– were allowed to enter.”

Hamka believes South is not unique in that alcohol is the substance of choice, but he said South has a more prevalent alcohol problem than other high schools.

“Our school is committed to help students make safe, healthy, responsible choices,” Hamka said. “All our efforts to dissuade students from using substances have never been an ‘I”ve got you!’”

Edgerton has addressed the situation by having conversations with Tower leadership, and moving forward will include a code of conduct in the staff manual including a list of specific Tower-endorsed events.

“The students broke my trust and now they have to regain it,” Edgerton said. “At the end of the day students need to realize they made a mistake. Now is the time to learn from those mistakes and take positive steps to move forward.”

Tower leadership said they will move forward and learn from their mistakes. According to Edgerton,Tower staff would never associate something outside of school with the newspaper unless sanctioned by the adviser and emailed to parents.

Editors John Francis and Liz Bigham, both ’18 hope the incident doesn’t affect the credibility of the Tower staff.

“In a broad sense, people are looking at Tower now and kind of have a distrust of it (the paper) now almost because we write so many stories like this and are usually the ones reporting on it,” Bigham said.

Francis agreed that one mistake some staffers made should not define who they are, or change the community’s view of The Tower.

“I don’t want our readers to think because our staffers do some things that aren’t always right outside of school, they aren’t good writers or aren’t respected writers,” Francis said. “We’re all students, we all make mistakes.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Towergate – A gathering turned scandal sweeps the school, leading to a lesson learned”

  1. C.E.Sikkenga on November 7th, 2017 6:50 pm

    Kudos on strong and brave reporting. It takes character to put your own organization under the bright lights. I’m sure it wasn’t easy and I’m sure there were some on your staff who argued against it. As journalists, we always need to do the right thing, even when it hurts. You did. That might not erase the damage to your brand, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Good luck moving forward and remember the words of Bob Dylan: “To live outside the law, you must be honest.” It can be a tough burden to bear but it is worth it to be a part of the Tower tradition.

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Towergate – A gathering turned scandal sweeps the school, leading to a lesson learned