by: Gary Horcher Updated:
SEATTLE - Every September as Garfield High School freshmen course through the halls, the talk of "Froshing" begins to surround them. The hazing tradition goes back years—decades, according to some students with older siblings.
"It's kind of expected that you go through it to be good with everyone socially," said a Garfield sophomore, who asked not to be identified. It's all the seniors, who want you to get paddled and they box you with boxing gloves, and sometimes you're forced to get drunk," said the student.
"It always happens at a location where seniors are in the loop, but sometimes the location has to be changed, because the principal could get tipped off where it's happening," said Augustine Vanden Brulle, a senior.
On Friday, the "secret" location of the annual froshing event was changed at the last minute. "Everyone moved from Seward Park to the Arboretum," said Vanden Brulle.
Principal Ted Howard was tipped-off, and arrived in the wooded area with a Seattle Police School Resource Officer. What he saw alarmed him enough to write this email to all Garfield parents:
"Do you know where your son or daughter is at tonight? I spent the afternoon with Officer Radford and many other officers walking through the Arboretum. One hundred or more Garfield students were participating in hazing incidents, drinking hard alcohol and beer. Students were being paddled, had on diapers, eggs were being thrown at students and shoe polish was all over their body. As students ran and scattered from the scene they caused at least one, maybe more car accidents due to running in front of cars," wrote Howard.
According to students who attended the hazing, seniors had vastly outnumbered freshmen, so concentrated hazing efforts became very aggressive, very fast.
"It's usually good-natured, it's like kids like messing around to bully the freshmen, the new kids," said sophomore David Morgan. Sophie, who did not want her last name used, said when she went through it last year, "It was fun, like a scavenger hunt," kind of like being at camp."
All who were present at this year's froshing told KIRO-7, it was far more intense this year.
"It was very upsetting," said Seattle public School spokesperson Teresa Wippel. "We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment, intimidation, or bullying."
Vanden Brulle said students scattered when Principal Howard announced his presence over a megaphone. "He said this is Mr. Howard! This is the Seattle Police Department! Everybody stop, don't get in your cars!"
But students ran everywhere, including into traffic, and caused a collision.
Students told KIRO 7 Howard was seen chasing students into nearby streets. "He was running after kids with his megaphone yelling "I'm closing in on you," said Vanden Brulle.
The school and Seattle Police are investigating the incident.
Some freshmen told KIRO 7, it took a dramatic event to finally stop the hazing for good. "Some of what these seniors are doing, I don't know if they were hazed, or what," said student Honey Muhammed. "But it's uncool. It really needs to stop."