Be nice to everyone (yes, even freshmen)

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Estelle Timar-Wilcox

“Unpopular Opinions” are exactly that. These opinions are those of the authors alone, and do not represent the opinions of The Lasso or of George Mason High School.

My first day of high school was pretty memorable. I’ll never forget the sleepless night before, walking to school with a friend and anxiously comparing schedules, and, of course, being greeted by the extensive chalk art on the sidewalks informing us that “freshmen suck”. Everyone knew to avoid the senior alcove, and even juniors snapped at me for leaving my stuff in their alcove after school.

Before you start rolling your eyes at this, know that I understand most of this attitude and I’m really not that against it. It’s not like it scarred me or anything. I’d already gotten a taste of it while playing Mason sports in eighth grade, where the youngest athletes were responsible for carrying the equipment, sitting at the front of the bus, and generally doing whatever no one else wanted to do. I completely understand that tradition on sports teams, and as a senior, I can confidently say that captains of teams take on many, many more responsibilities than eighth graders and freshmen.

So yes, it’s a tradition, and yes, it makes sense a lot of the time to have the younger kids do the easy little jobs. But where the “I’m a senior and they’re a freshman” excuse stops working is when you’re just being ignorant to other people.

It’s just rude to yell at eighth graders and freshmen who step on the strip of grey in the senior hallway. If they’re actually sitting in the alcove or in your way, a quick, “Hey, this is supposed to be for seniors, can you move?” works perfectly. Yeah, they’re freshmen, but there’s really no point in intimidating them – they’re already scared of you anyway. And it’s even worse if you’re a junior or sophomore snapping at younger kids – I hate to break it to you, but you’re not that much cooler than freshmen. At least wait until your senior year. It’s not that hard to be nice to people.

Using the senior privilege of fully hating freshmen can feel like a sort of revenge – we used to be in the place of the underclassmen, and seniors want the chance to be the ones bossing everyone else around. And again, that’s fair as long as you’re not just being annoying for the sake of being annoying. You can’t just be rude because people were rude to you when you were a freshman. There’s no situation in life where “someone did it to me so I can do it to them” is a solid excuse.

And while we’re pretty good about it at Mason, it’s clear from the recent hazing incidents in colleges that this trend has real and horrible consequences. Obviously, we’re not at the level where it becomes dangerous here, but it’s based on the same ideas of giving new kids a hard time. It’s clear that we need to be extremely careful to keep it to harmless fun and not go too far.  

So have fun being a senior, and enjoy sitting in the alcove and not having to carry sports equipment and getting extra privileges. Just keep in mind that being a senior doesn’t mean you get a pass on being respectful.