Black hole leaders feel restriction after pushed to become school club

Sean Speidel | The Chronicle

The Black Hole supports the boys varsity basketball team at their annual “Pink Out” night.

The Black Hole is going to have a new look next school year.

On Wednesday, January 19 2022, Mason High School (MHS) principal, Bobby Dodd, announced that the Black Hole has been approved by the school district to become an official school club. This means that there will be a new application process, new rules and new opportunities for the Black Hole in the 2022-23 school year.

Dodd said that he views this change as an opportunity to maintain and improve one of the best student sections in the state of Ohio.

“Our student sections here have been something we’ve been proud of over the years,” Dodd said. “We want to keep that tradition going.”

Although administration feels that making the group a school club is a step in the right direction, current leaders feel as if the school is infringing on the tradition of the student-led and appointed Black Hole.

Current leader, Owen Bostico, feels there is no need for the school to overtake the Black Hole, and said that the student section’s independence was part of the reason that students attend games.
“I feel as if this is a move for the school to try and take control out of the students’ hands and put it into their own,” Bostico said.

As the Black Hole will now be an official school club, Dodd said that this move was not a push to restrict what the students can and cannot do, rather, it was to promote inclusive excellence within the group and to try to mimic other schools’ student section policies.

“If we’re abiding by the sportsmanship policies of the league, our school, and what we think is appropriate, then it’s all good,” Dodd said. “We’re kind of just facilitators to students. It’s their voice and choice they’ll be the ones that get to run the club.”

The newly created club comes with new rules and regulations. The new bylaws for Black Hole members include a list of eight actions that Black Hole leaders cannot partake in. Notably, “Black Hole leaders will not Lead and/or take part in any non-supportive chants, cheers, or actions which are directed toward the opposing team.”

Black Hole leader Jack Waldon feels that these new policies are unnecessary and said that he believes the current Black Hole has been appropriate while still maintaining an exciting atmosphere for the students.

“There’s a point where you’re crossing a line,” Waldon said. “We have stayed under that line.”
Just as inprevious years, the Black Hole will be led by senior “leaders” who stand in the front, cheering and uniting students in chants. The rest of the seniors, and all junior, sophomore, and freshman club members will be a part of a new Black Hole Board. Board members will be tasked with organizing themes or chants and engineering new methods of showing support to Mason’s student-athletes.

Dodd said that he believes the collaboration between these two groups will create a more balanced and more organized version of the Black Hole.

“We think that representatives from each class will be able to communicate more efficiently and effectively [to students],” Dodd said. “What we think that will do is create a more cohesive student section.”

Not only does Dodd think this move will help the club to be more organized, but that it will provide for new opportunities as well. Dodd said that because the Black Hole is shifting to become a club, they will have the opportunity to raise money in order to send students to away games, provide free admission to home games, or buy themed shirts.

“[Fundraising] is probably the best thing we can do since we’re going to be a club,” Dodd said. “ We can fundraise as a club, build up an account, and utilize the money.”

The increased responsibilities that come with being a club have led Dodd to incorporate an application and interview process. This is a change of pace as opposed to previous years, when the leaders would select their replacements. The committee involved with the interview process involves administrator, staff and student input in order to best decide who to elect as a Black Hole member.
Dodd said that the committee is looking for students that embody the ideals of school spirit, leadership, and the will to represent Mason well.

“[Being a Black Hole member is] about leadership,” Dodd said. “It’s about doing the right things and knowing that you’re representing us and that people are looking up to you as a leader.”

Bostico, however, feels that an application process would prevent some students from becoming leaders. He said that the growing influence from administration could be intimidating to potential successors of the Black Hole.

“I think some students might be scared to put themselves out there towards an admin,” Bostico said. “ I don’t think I would have applied to be [a Black Hole leader] if it was a club.

Photo by Lily Haller