Editorial: New VHS dance rules need to be given a chance

Few seem happy with the process that led to the crafting of new rules for dancing at Vashon High School.

Students cried foul when parents and administrators convened in November and announced, among other things, that grinding — the controversial dance form that has captured our collective attention in recent months — was over at Vashon High School.

Student leaders regrouped and began working with Principal Susan Hanson on some new rules, which they issued this week — and now parents are upset that they were shut out of the process.

Process, of course, is important. Indeed, a bad process can predetermine the outcome.

But in this instance, it’s possible — despite all the fits and starts, the miscommunication, the anger and even the hurt — that this messy process has resulted in something worthwhile.

It’s possible these new rules might work.

As is the nature of compromise, neither side is completely happy with the outcome.

Students, technically, won’t be able to grind anymore. They’ll need to stay three fingers’ width apart — about three inches — which spells an end to the groin-to-buttocks contact that seems to define this dance style. They also won’t be able to have a mosh pit anymore — that dense pack of kids that made it impossible for chaperones to know exactly what was going on.

But the parents who organized last fall in response to their mounting concerns over grinding didn’t get everything they wanted either. Back-to-front dancing will still be allowed (the parent group wanted only face-to-face dancing). And their request for a more stringent approach to music didn’t fly; VHS will continue to use a national play list that includes several questionable songs.

Even so, it’s time now for everyone — administrators, parents and most importantly students — to give this new regimen a go and see how it works.

Key to its success, of course, is enforcement. VHS has come out with anti-grinding rules in the past, in response to parental concerns; as soon as those parents stopped looking, it seemed, grinding resumed.

But this time, it’s different. The parents have been far more organized and determined. The administrative response has been thoughtful and solid. The document that has emerged spells out clear and enforceable rules. And there will likely be no confusion about them: Hanson is meeting with every class to explain them; she’s also sending out a letter to parents.

We can continue to decry the process. Or we can give these new rules a chance to work. We encourage all sides to show good faith, assume good intent and move forward. We also urge the conversations to continue. Though at times tough, they’ve provided a remarkable window into our values, hopes and dreams and can further clarify who we are as a community and how we can live peaceably among and with each other.

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