It was on a Wednesday in the first week of September 2003, at the start of term at Fairweather Private School in Montreal that the year’s crop of freshmen made their way into the auditorium of the 100 year old Academy. The school prided itself in being exclusive, traditional and somewhat above the law. But, as many alumni were lawyers, the school managed to adhere to the letter, if not spirit, of the law in carrying out old-school traditions. Frosh Fun Friday (aka FFF) was one such near by not over the edge tradition.
Seated on the dais before the 58 assembled first-year boys and girls were Headmaster, Frederick Ogilvy and Headmistress Abby Downton. Each were academic heads in their separate fields of expertise; Ogilvy in the arts and Downton in the sciences. And Headmaster and Headmistress were disciplinarians for all grades; he ruled the girls, she ruled the boys. Neither confined themselves to use of a wooden ruler in doling out punishment, as leather tools such as belts, floggers, flails and, of course, the tawse were all within the school’s disciplinary tradition.
But punishment was not why the freshman assembly was called this day. Headmaster and Headmistress took turns explaining to the assembled youth the importance of Fairweather’s Frosh Fun Fridays and what they, this year’s freshman class, needed to understand and appreciate this rite of passage and why they would soon be grateful to two of their peers who would bear their burden in their stead...
Headmaster Ogilvy began:
Welcome one and all to Fairweather Private School. You freshmen boys and girls have all attained the age of 14 and, as I assume you all know that one or both of your parents are alumni of this great seat of learning and privilege. With their full approval, you have each signed and sworn to a covenant of consent and compliance. That is the subject of today’s assembly and Headmistress Downton and I will now detail the historical background and show the connection to its hallowed tradition and the part which two of you will play in it this year.
Headmistress Downton continued the address:
Several years ago chaos and mayhem ran rampant in the halls of Fairweather as the tradition of hazing freshmen boys and girls was taken too far. Not that the quality or degree of humiliation was too great, but the number of freshmen being put through embarrassing and degrading trials was so high that we, your guardians and mentors, found it nearly impossible to keep track. In those days the hazing of fresh-meat lasted a full month and every first year student could expect to be subjected to public stripping, gross discipline and sexual humiliation on a daily basis, often four or five times a day.
Headmaster Ogilvy elaborated:
As you can imagine, this was very time consuming and set the school back in sports, academic achievement and the janitorial costs alone were devastating! Some urine and semen stains on carpets were so bad we had to get new ones. So the board of directors, in consultation with many alumni, came up with a solution. A loser lottery whereby two freshmen ( one boy and one girl ) would be chosen at random at the beginning of each school year.
Headmistress Downton continued:
These two and only these two would bear the burden and honor just one day per week throughout the school year ... that is, until they were freshmen no more ( Should one or both fail the year, they would continue to be hazed the following year as well and join another pair of new fresh-meat for Frosh Fun Friday humiliation. ) The intensity of the hazing has increased, of course. But it is still within legal bounds as you all have signed Contracts of Compliance and Consent; you are each 14 or 15 years of age and we have parental consent as well.
Headmaster Ogilvy further explained:
The new rules for FFF are as follows:
(1) One boy and one girl from the first year class is chosen by random draw at the first day assembly ( here and now ) and will be immediately prepared and presented in a full school assembly at the end of the school day.
(2) Each Friday these FFF winners/losers will present in the same manner at a morning full assembly before classes commence.
(3) Throughout the day ( every Friday ) the FFF’ers must submit to any and all hazing from any student as long as the hazing demands may be identified as beginning with the letter ‘F’.
Headmistress Downton continued explaining the rules:
For instance: Flogging, Feeling up, etc. This will apply to both the boy and the girl who must submit without resistance. Although they are not expected to do so quietly, they may not refuse.
Headmaster Ogilvy added:
If either FFF’er refuses and tries to escape the hazing BOTH FFF’ers will be punished severely ... by that I mean caning. even though that begins with a ‘C’. Refuse twice and BOTH FFF’ers will have to submit to FFF status for the following year as well as this current one. A third refusal will result in FFF status being extend to the next three years until graduation. Any questions?
One ninth grader raised her hand and in a trembling voice asked, “ Sir, when you say ‘hazing demands which begin with the letter ‘F’, does that include the ... ummm, you know, uhh THE ‘F-word’?”