A Letter from the Editors

Is Red Tide a true representation of PVHS?

Sarah Liu and Claire Hardesty

Red Tide has always been a hallmark of PVHS school spirit, from its overwhelming energy at rivalry matches to the impressively homogenous crowd of crimson t-shirts cheering on the bleachers.

Leading this pack are the Red Tide Presidents, a small group of students beholden with the responsibility of the crowd’s good time. Over the years, an increasingly disturbing pattern of tokenistic representation has made itself apparent. It was only four short years ago, in 2017, when we saw Nicole Halverson become the school’s first female Red Tide Captain — a milestone more shameful than impressive for PVHS. Since then, it appears as if there is a perceived single spot for girls in the group. In a team that typically consists of four to seven Captains, it shouldn’t be hard to have an equal representation of the sexes in Red Tide. Past female members like Halverson, Morgan Pisanno, Annie Ruth, and Ife Ibraheem deserve more than to be used to meet this unspoken quota that can be summed up as the laziest form of female representation.

Arguments like “girls don’t apply” or “girls don’t want the position” are overly simplistic—men have dominated the position for so long, and girls are turned away from applying by the assumption that they won’t have a chance if they tried. In the end, Red Tide needs to distance itself from the student body’s perception of it, and focus on making the program appear and feel more welcoming for more diverse groups to join. 

It can be argued that, since men make up the majority at PVHS, Red Tide must be aptly fulfilling its job. However, such a flimsy argument can be easily compared to the successful pushes for on-screen diversity in the entertainment industry. While white people are the majority in the US, that fact does not make movies such as “Black Panther” or “Crazy Rich Asians” any less significant in the cultural zeitgeist, or diminish the impact they have on actors of color. By extension, the selection of Red Tide Captains has the power to influence our student body, and more specifically, influence the young women at PVHS.

The lack of female representation doesn’t just affect the onlooking student body, it affects the dynamic of Red Tide as a group as well. As a Red Tide President Ife Ibraheem has said herself (see page 3), the lack of another female voice on the team creates an environment where girls not only feel pressure to make themselves heard, but are less comfortable standing up for themselves in uncomfortable situations.

If Red Tide is to continue as it has, we run the risk of sending the message that only a few girls are capable of contributing to spirit leadership, while we should be promoting the idea that all young women at PVHS have the potential and opportunity to contribute to this position just as much as the men of PVHS have. While having one female Red Tide President may be the best ASB can do in a given year, we fear that this practice will still sow seeds of doubt in young women’s heads that their position wasn’t deserved.

We’d be remiss not to mention the social status it appears one must attain in order to even be considered for Red Tide. Interviews with administration and teachers make the process more objective, but including ASB Presidents in the decision-making room makes it easier for them to choose from their own. By upholding this preconceived notion, many are overlooked or discouraged from applying, especially girls who have the energy and drive to be a Captain but feel as if they will be overlooked. If Red Tide isn’t inclusive, Red Tide does not represent PVHS. It represents the small fraction of our school that has always been in the spotlight. The spotlight needs to be shared if Red Tide truly is what unites PVHS.

If we cannot commit to holding an equal gender ratio of Red Tide captains, at the very least, the process by which they are selected must be publicized more. Alternatively, the selection of Red Tide Captains should be democratized like ASB elections. Everyone, from the amateur DJ in the front to the girl who’s frustrated by her lackluster row in the back of the bleachers, should have the chance to be a Red Tide Captain. 

If the student body is what defines Red Tide, then we deserve a Red Tide that looks like us.