East’s most infamous tradition, the Eastonian, must end with the school’s 60th graduating class.
We’ve all heard how the underground student-run newspaper began as a mild joke a few decades ago – students poked harmless fun at the school and its faculty. But today’s Eastonian, the “most diabolical, ignorant, straight up abusive piece of journalism [they] could conjure up,” as last year’s writers said themselves, is a piece of paper that idolizes Keystone Light and proudly names “whores of the year.”
What fun is that? It’s by no means harmless. It’s not complaining about the AirPlay going out every five minutes or how there isn’t enough time for lunch.
As Lancer Day approaches and some may be tempted to follow in the footsteps of those who came before, focus on the reality of the Eastonian: it’s hurtful, it’s ruining our reputation, and it will ultimately harm those who write it. There’s no value in continuing this senior “rite of passage.”
The days leading up to the release of the Eastonian are anxious: some stay home from school for fear of the public humiliation that’ll come if their name’s in the edition. Once the concoction of insults and lies is released, the office phones ring constantly, the voices of outraged parents accused of condoning teen drinking and devastated kids who fell victim to sexual harassment waiting on the other end.
The hurt runs so deep that one student last year changed their college plans because they were tormented so deeply by the thing creators pass off as a “newspaper.”
As human beings, we have to stop this. We have to stop spreading rumors to friends, acquaintances, even teachers. Think about who we destroy when we forward the Eastonian on our phones or “accidentally” pick up a copy in the bathroom: the girl in our English class or the boy who smiles at us in the hall.
A section about the Eastonian is the largest portion of the Shawnee Mission East Wikipedia page. We gained considerable news coverage last year, but not because we won state in boys swim or had seven National Merit semifinalists; at least five local news outlets covered the 2016 Eastonian, putting our most shameful tradition in the spotlight.
The Eastonian isn’t the only problem our school has faced. Last year we were hit by sexual assault and anti-Semitism, too. But eliminating one factor recently contributing to East’s poor reputation begins the process of reclaiming a positive one.
Leave your mark on this school: be known as the class who stopped the Eastonian. Several students have already dedicated themselves to upholding this school’s integrity. A group of senior boys submitted a contract to McKinney earlier this year promising they would take no part in the Eastonian. The boys basketball team is doing the same.
We commend these individuals for realizing the importance of taking a stand to end this now.
And we hope anyone else who is thinking about participating in it realizes that the consequences extend beyond morality. An email McKinney sent Sept. 15, 2016, – eerily, the same date as this year’s Lancer Day – detailed the consequences of writing, editing or distributing the Eastonian. Any student participating in the Eastonian will be suspended from school, banned from all games, activities, dances and events, unable to walk at graduation and additionally subject to any and all legal consequences.
You won’t walk with your class after four years of 2 a.m. nights studying chemistry and three-hour group project sessions at Panera. You won’t see the Lancers take state again in the championship football game. You won’t go to homecoming or WPA or prom, let alone be named king or queen.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s funny or cool to keep this going. It’s not. Be able to say that you left Shawnee Mission East a little bit better than how you found it. Because in the end, you’ll be gone, but the mark you leave – whether that’s tearing your peers down or ending the tradition that does – will remain.