Editorial: Not all fun and games

The Tam News reexamines the dangerous tradition of Tam students.


Each year the Tam administration issues warnings to parents during the last few weeks of May, and each year the so-called “scav hunt” continues to be a large part of the school’s culture. The scavenger hunt is always written by upperclassmen boys and includes a list of tasks for points, usually with a money reward for who completes the most tasks for the most points. Some of the tasks are crude, most are downright illegal, and others encourage acts which would be considered outrageous under any other circumstances.

This year the junior and senior hunts were held in the last two weeks of May and the beginning of June. Since then, the seniors have had their annual scavenger hunt and faced a wave of criticism from the Tam administration, many officials threatening to take away senior week activities or even rescind college applications. But in order for us to know how to handle this tradition, it is essential that we understand more about what aspects truly make this tradition harmful.

For years now, the list has included “hooking up” with freshman, sophomores, and sometimes even middle schoolers. While the task is not gender specific, many past lists have singled out girls and boys based on their reputation, looks, or siblings. In some extreme cases, these tasks push students to sexually harass or even assault their peers, often whom are younger than them, for no reason other than to gain points. It’s true that some underclassmen are willing to perform sexual or illegal tasks, but for the most part, the element of peer pressure plays into whatever they “choose” to do.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the scavenger hunt is the widespread acceptance of the idea of gaining points for doing morally dubious things. The more heinous the act, the more points one receives. This idea is probably the most disturbing part of the tradition, considering the idea of getting rewarded for doing illegal things encourages the idea that they should be commended. If such ideas are carried into adulthood, the ramifications could be devastating, further encouraging an unhealthy culture among the upcoming generation.

Although topic this was briefly covered in an another editorial The Tam News wrote in 2017, it has become increasingly apparent that something about the hunt needs to change. When the last scavenger hunt editorial was written, it was in response to a specific  act of violence against an underclassmen, and since then there has only been a worsening of the tasks presented. Administration has done a better job this year of taking a stand against the hunt, but there are many things they could improve upon in the future. Offering specific consequences and focusing more on prevention as opposed to punishment would be more helpful, especially considering the backlash they delivered this year (which included singling out individual students, holding a senior class assembly, and encouraging students to turn themselves in with “integrity”). Administrators even took the drastic step of sending out both the junior and senior lists to all Tam parents, a seemingly desperate attempt to quell the tradition which is possibly misguided. Instead, administration should be more proactive with helping the victims of scavenger hunt, something they have stressed as important yet never made any effort to complete.

While Tam administration does have an obligation to do all they can to stop the scavenger hunt from continuing, the real change that needs to occur must be inside the student body. Collectively, The Tam News believes students of all grades have to come to a consensus: the scavenger hunt is unacceptable. Students need to understand that what they are doing is considered a crime, particularly if they are over 18 years old. Additionally, though many students do not partake in some of the more extreme tasks, by participating in the event condones the entire list as OK. An event which casually encourages sexual assault, peer pressure, illicit and dangerous drug use should never be dismissed as a simple tradition. It’s time to wake up.