Assassins prompts safety discussion

Student-run game introduces rule clarification


Grace Farley

Photo illustration by Grace Farley

As senior assassins leader Grace Lynch reflected on this year’s rule changes, she said the purpose is to try to prevent injury.

“This year we’re really focusing on safety and so if you get in any sort of crash or get a ticket or anything, you’re disqualified. Last year there were some debates, (this year) if you get a ticket no matter what it is, you’re going to be disqualified,” Lynch said. “We’re not willing to risk people’s safety with cars and vehicles.”

According to a statement by St. Louis Park Police Chief Mike Harcey posted May 7, 2018, students should not play assassins around cars.

“Never play the game in or near a moving vehicle,” the statement said. “Rowdy or aggressive behavior has no place in or around a vehicle.”

Biology teacher Julie Schilz, who is concerned about student safety, said in order to make assassins safer, the rules surrounding cars should be changed.

“You can do drive-bys with the expectation that you will not get in a crash or get a ticket, but you don’t know that until it actually happens. Tickets and crashes are things you can’t control,” Schilz said. “There shouldn’t be a rule about something you can’t actually control.”

Principal Scott Meyers said the rule clarification regarding car accidents and tickets may be too little, too late, in the event of a mishap.

“Accidents are never intentional and sometimes the effects are not able to be undone. (The rule clarification) sounds like maybe a retroactive way to protect people,” Meyers said. “My concern would be if the damage happens, then the citation or disqualification afterwards may not be that helpful.”

According to freshman Regan Mona, she supports the rule clarification because of the dangers the game can present.

“I think it is important they have more safe stuff, especially with the driving just because I’ve heard in the past of people who’ve gotten killed from car crashes and stuff (while playing assassins),” Mona said.

According to the Star Tribune, two students died in an automobile accident which was connected to a game similar to assassins. Schilz said the student deaths in Lakeville should have prompted a change in rules.

“I would have thought the deaths in Lakeville in 2015 would have been a wakeup call for teens, but clearly it wasn’t,” Schilz said.

According to Meyers, although assassins is not associated with the administration, it still is a source of anxiety.

“After clarifying that (assassins) is something not directly tied to the school, I have as a principal very little ability to control it. I will say my concern about it is that anytime it’s happening in the community, just based on my understanding of how the game is supposed to be played, I worry a great deal about confusion — people not certain of what the intentions are of students who are playing the game,” Meyers said. “In past years, there’s has been conversations about students who are hiding or doing things that are unsafe in vehicles.”

The statement from Harcey said if a student comes into contact with a police officer while playing assassins, they should cooperate.

“If you encounter police while in possession of a Nerf-type gun, put it down immediately and follow the officers’ instructions,” the statement said. “Youth may be asked for their name and/or identification and released if it is confirmed that no harmful or unlawful activity has taken place.”

According to Schilz, assassins not only poses a threat to students, but to the whole community as well.

“There will be people driving around and not paying attention to the road because they are trying to kill other kids in other cars and on foot. Who knows what they will run into, it is a huge safety issue for the students and the community,” Schilz said.

Lynch said challenges include debates about whether or not a student was eliminated.

“I think it’s going to be hard because people like to bend the rules. Sometimes they like to do whatever they want so it’s going to be hard to control everybody, especially because we are not out there with all them all the time so we don’t know how safe they’re being,” Lynch said.

Mona said assassins has been a good experience despite the aspects of the game that are off-putting, causing paranoia for some.

“It’s been fun but it’s also creepy to get stalked really early in the morning,” Mona said. “When you think about it in school it’s not that scary but then you realize someone’s following you and it’s kind of scary, but you get used to it.”

According to Schilz, assassins does come with positive aspects, such as community building.

“I think assassins is a super fun game,” Schilz said. “Students who don’t usually interact might get to know each other, it can be a really fun way to be outside as the weather gets nicer.”