BY KAREN SUROS
Every year, incoming freshmen are subjected to the backlash of upperclassmen. It ranges from general complaints about the new and confused addition to the student body, to eager chants of “Freshmen go home!” at school activities. Frankly, it’s not completely justified. Every high school student has been a freshman, so why are incoming freshmen still subjected to the yearly taunts?
The truth of the matter is that the strong dislike– one might even call it hate– that sophomores, juniors and seniors have for freshmen is senseless, but also a harmless rite of passage that won’t be changing any time soon.
It’s become somewhat of a cycle; the sophomore class is so happy to no longer be ninth graders, and they celebrate by poking fun at the poor suckers who took their place. Those unfortunate souls soon become sophomores and do the same thing as their predecessors. On and on goes the habitual harassment of the underclassmen of the school.
“I feel like giving hate to freshmen is wrong because, first of all, you were in that state before,” freshman Yumna Umar said. “Also, if you go to college you’re going to be a freshman there.”
At the end of the day, freshmen are just as much a part of the student body as any other class.
Each year of high school comes with its own set of struggles. Freshman year is generally easier in regards to academics, as the courses typically become more difficult in later years. However, students are entering a new and unfamiliar environment which puts them at somewhat of a disadvantage. It takes some time to get used to it and gain the feeling of belonging. It is an important year in regards to academics as well, as students will begin to establish their grade point averages (GPA). In fact, according to research, out of all the high school grade levels it is freshmen that have the lowest GPA, the most missed classes, the most failing grades and the most instances of misbehavior.
Freshmen can’t help their age or their grade. As previously mentioned, everyone has to go through their first year of high school. It’s meant to be an introduction to what some refer to as “the best years of [their] life” (debate on the legitimacy of this statement is ongoing).
It’s mostly just about the annoying things that freshmen may do: traveling in packs, stopping in the middle of a busy hallway to say hi to friends, being a little too loud a little too early in the morning and the list goes on. However, these are things anyone, regardless of grade or age, might do. They’re not exclusive to ninth graders. Irritating behavior knows no boundaries, least of all age. It’s all about emotional maturity. These actions may seem like ninth grade territory because ninth graders are coming fresh out of middle school, but it could be anyone.
“I personally have never experienced anything more than some light teasing,” sophomore Jamie Tatis said.
Of course, it’s not a legitimate hate (for the most part). The majority of the upperclassmen just don’t care enough to genuinely despise freshmen; they’ve got more important things to worry about. This makes the “hate” a very, very watered down version of initiation into college fraternities– it’s really just banter. When polled, 75 percent of 28 students said they never felt singled out by upperclassmen when they were freshmen. Clearly, it’s not severe.
“I personally have never experienced anything more than some light teasing,” sophomore Jamie Tatis said. “But they are in a brand new environment and are adjusting to a new life so maybe some people can lighten up.”
It’s only harmless if no one is getting hurt. If it’s violent or someone actually becomes upset or offended by the comments, the fun is over. There’s a fine line between playfully teasing freshmen and bullying them. It’s not to be crossed.
At the end of the day, freshmen are just as much a part of the student body as any other class. There’s no need to belittle them for something they cannot control, especially when they are already undergoing a rather intimidating transition from middle school to high school.
In the future, it’s important to keep in mind that all high school students have been there, and to consider how it felt to be teased at that time. No one should be walking the halls feeling isolated for something that everyone has been through- the concept is just too ironic.
Photo curtesy of Ghegg Play