Staff Editorial: The Great Grinding Ban Debacle

Linn-Mar Life Editorial Board

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As long as there have been high school dances, there have been people complaining about high school dances. This time around, the complaints circle around grinding. Should it be allowed? Should the administration try to police it? Should we even care?

The Background

Grinding has been a problem at Linn-Mar dances for years. In 2012, the administration attempted to put a stop to it after a parent wrote a scathing blog post about the immorality of grinding at school dances. The parent who wrote that blog post was a chaperone at that year’s Homecoming dance. For WPA that year, the administration sent letters to students’ homes declaring that no form of grinding or suggestive dancing would be allowed.

In reaction to those regulations, Kyle Jordan, a Linn-Mar student at the time, collaborated with other classmates to host a private dance, dubbed by Twitter as Grindfest, on the same day as WPA. They rented the American Legion near Hy-Vee and hired a Marion police officer as a chaperone. Tickets sold out, three hundred students showed up, and attendance at that year’s WPA was low. Overall, the private dance was a success, and the students who hosted it made over $3,000 from ticket sales.

Enforcement Begins (kind-of)

Although the administration maintained a no-grinding policy, they never strictly enforced it in later years. Grinding continued to be a problem, and the situation finally came back into the spotlight during this year’s TOGA. Due to a continual stream of parent complaints, the administration decided to “enforce” their no-grinding policy.

However, their approach to enforcement was simply to hand the responsibility off to Student Council. Student Council’s solution was to implement a wristband policy, where students are given wristbands upon entering the dances. If they are caught grinding, their wristband is cut off, and if they break the rules a second time, they are kicked out of the dance.

Policy Unpopular, Some Students Protest

This policy was immensely unpopular with some students. During this year’s TOGA, the most vocal students protested in the Linn-Mar parking lot, until they were told to leave at 8 p.m. by the administration. After that, the protestors went to East Knoll Park in Robins to host their own private TOGA. The party was eventually broken up by the police.

Students Are Not Faultless

Many students’ first thought may be to accuse the administration of abusing their power, but students are not at all faultless in the whole grinding-ban debacle. We ask you to consider these questions. Why do you grind in the first place? To make people uncomfortable? Would you do it in front of your parents? If not, why do you think it’s okay to do it in front of other people? Are you just so bad at dancing that you can’t do anything else? If you don’t have a reason to grind, don’t oppose the administration’s no-grinding policy just out of spite.

We know many of you may be thinking, “But this is just the way our generation dances!” However, take a look around at the next school dance. People who grind are in the minority. It’s not the way our generation dances, it’s the way those specific individuals choose to dance, and it makes many people, including many of your own classmates, uncomfortable.

We find it ironic that almost everybody at school complains about and ridicules PDA in the hallways but then those same critics want to grind just because they’re at a school dance. If PDA is inappropriate, then how is grinding any better? Answer: it’s not.

Students should understand the responsibility of the administration to maintain the integrity of our school. The administration, as the host for every school dance, has every right to enforce a no-grinding policy. Grinding is a sexually-suggestive activity, which is inappropriate in any professional setting and increasingly more inappropriate when the vast majority of participants are minors. To the students that insist on grinding, if it’s such a priority to you, stop complaining about the school’s policy and host your own dance. It’s been done before and it was successful. Go ahead, what’s stopping you?

Administration: It’s Not All on the Kids

To our administration, while we agree with your stance on grinding, we think that you could have handled the entire situation better. First of all, this situation should have been handled years ago when the initial problem arose. If the issue was considered in 2012, you should have taken action in 2012 and not waited seven years to actually try to implement a solution. Stating that there is a no-grinding policy and enforcing the policy are entirely different. Second, Student Council should not have to shoulder your responsibility. Granted, Student Council did a good job coming up with a compromise, but still, the no-grinding policy was your idea, so it should be your responsibility to implement it, not the students’. Finally, getting rid of school dances entirely is not a solution. It’s a cowardly way out of having to deal with the problem.

And we have one last question for the administration. We respect and appreciate your reasoning that enforcing a no-grinding policy helps prevent an environment that condones or overlooks sexual assault. Focusing on sexual assault is important, but we really think you made this policy because of pressure from parent complaints, which is not acceptable in our opinion. This begs the question, if you just give parents what they want on this issue, what will you do for other issues? Will you just listen to parents or will you also listen to the students?

Policy Enforced? Ummm-no.

Now, considering Homecoming 2019, were the wristbands a success? Was this sudden effort to enforce the no-grinding policy effective? Multiple members of the LM Life editorial board attended Homecoming in person, and we agree unanimously that the wristbands were a colossal failure. We saw many students still grinding at the dance, and although administrators were standing around the crowd, we saw no effort to confront the rule-breakers.

We want to applaud the students for expressing their righteous anger. Speaking up is important, and although the students overreacted, their outrage is at least partially justified. We respect the administration’s efforts to implement a no-grinding policy, but we question the administration’s level of seriousness and effort. As far as what happens at the next dance, it’s anyone’s guess. If the issue of grinding is truly worth the controversy and debate, everyone must take action. Students must decide to start being respectful of others and stop grinding, and the administration needs to act on their empty threats and actually enforce their no-grinding policy by kicking rule-breakers out of the dances. Trust us, nobody will miss them.