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School officials criticize website that ranks HHS girls

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Education, Featured: Education

A website posting that ranked freshman female students at Hopkinton High School based on their physical appearance has been removed from the site and received sharp criticism from school officials.

The rankings were posted on Challonge.com, a website that uses an NCAA basketball tournament-like bracket to allow participants to vote on their favorites in various categories, such as most popular Star Wars characters or Hot Wheels vehicles.

In this case, the bracket listed female members of the freshman class, based on physical appearance.

High school principal Evan Bishop, athletic director Richard Cormier, assistant principal Justin Pominville and interim assistant principal Laura Theis strongly criticized the material in a March 31 email sent to the school community.

“Words cannot describe how disappointing and unacceptable this is,” the email reads. “We strongly condemn this behavior, which is damaging and disparaging to all young women in the freshmen class but also to all Hopkinton students and indeed, all women.”

The situation is under investigation to determine which students were involved in creating the website, according to the email. “Any student found to be participating or involved will be held accountable,” the email reads. “Any act that negatively targets a group based on gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual-orientation, learning difference or any other distinguishing characteristic will not be tolerated at HHS.”

In an email to the Independent, superintendent Carol Cavanaugh and Bishop did not identify those responsible for the site posting and said they “cannot share the consequences imposed upon students.”

The email said the administration does “not fully know the role” of Hopkinton Police in the case and referred the Independent to the Police Department for more information.

Representatives of the HPD did not immediately respond to questions about the case.

“As a school, HHS is supporting — and will continue to support — all of our students, socially, emotionally, behaviorally and educationally,” Cavanaugh and Bishop wrote in the email. “Hopkinton High School prides itself on striving for everyone to feel safe, supported and empowered in school. HHS administration is looking into what the school can do as a community to provide education around this topic.”

The Challonge.com website’s terms of services prevent the posting or transmission of “any unlawful, fraudulent, libelous, defamatory, racist, obscene, pornographic, profane, threatening, abusive, hateful, offensive or otherwise objectionable information of any kind.”

A Challonge.com spokesperson said the “the team immediately took action to discover, remove and ban the account” because it was “in violation of the Challonge terms of service.”

The spokesperson said the company “take[s] our terms of service incredibly seriously” and has “a support team that regularly acts on, investigates and responds to activity on the platform.”

The email sent to the school community said this incident must be addressed and used to “teach the important lessons that come from the unfortunate choices of a few.”

“The strong reaction to this event by members of the Class of 2024 underscores the values that we collectively hold as a Hopkinton community,” the email states.


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