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Former mayor urges East High School stop head-shaving hazing ‘tradition’

Salt Lake Tribune logo Salt Lake Tribune 8/31/2020 Sean P. Means
Jackie Biskupski standing in front of a television: (Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Then-Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski delivers her State of the City address at East High School in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Biskupski is calling out East High seniors for their annual hazing "tradition" of shaving the heads of incoming freshmen. © Trent Nelson (Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Then-Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski delivers her State of the City address at East High School in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Biskupski is calling out East High seniors for their annual hazing "tradition" of shaving the heads of incoming freshmen.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is demanding that East High School crack down on senior students hazing incoming freshmen, after a scared ninth grade boy showed up on her doorstep Saturday night.

“They had singled him out of a large group of kids his age, to force him into a car and take him to shave his head,” Biskupski wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “And who knows what else they would do.”

The boy told Biskupski that the hazing is a rite of passage that had been going on for years at East, and that “the school won’t or can’t do anything about it,” she wrote. The hazing takes place ahead of the new school year, which for Salt Lake City School District this year begins on Sept. 8.

We have video cameras on our house. Last night, after dark, a young man ran up to our door, banging and ringing the...

Posted by Jackie Biskupski on Sunday, August 30, 2020

In a second post, Biskupski wrote that she has video of seniors chasing the freshman, from a home surveillance system. She asked those seniors, and all seniors at East, “to drum up the courage to come forward and end the decades-long practice of kidnapping 9th graders and putting them through the terror of being held down, against their wills, to have their heads shaved.”

Biskupski also called on Greg Maughan, East High’s principal, “to shut this traumatic experience down NOW!”

Maughan answered later Sunday with a lengthy post on East High’s Facebook account, saying that the hazing was “an inappropriate, long-standing community tradition [that] has reared its ugly head again this year.”

Dear parents/guardians and students, I want to start by simply saying I truly believe it takes an entire village to...

Posted by East High School - Salt Lake City on Sunday, August 30, 2020

The school warns seniors every year that the head-shaving “is not only inappropriate; it is WRONG,” Maughan wrote.

Investigating the hazing is nearly impossible, Maughan wrote, because freshmen students who are victimized refuse to come forward. Maughan also blamed parents who “push it deeper underground to avoid or prevent consequences.”

Students who commit such hazing, Maughan wrote, are subject to school discipline, under district policy. They also may be barred from playing on sports teams under Utah High School Athletics Association rules, he wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City School District urged anyone with information on the hazing to contact Maughan at East High School.

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