Where is the love… for freshmen?

September 14, 2010 — by Michael Lee

Just to clarify, this is not about the song by the Black Eyed Peas.

This is about something more significant than pop music, something that affects high school students everywhere. This is about the much needed respect most freshmen have been deprived of. Despite the Link Crew and teachers’ attempts to help ninth graders, some sophomores, juniors and seniors still enjoy picking on their younger schoolmates.

This maltreatment naturally stems from the older students’ past high school experiences. After all, every upperclassman was once a freshman. And many would argue that the sophomores’, juniors’ and seniors’ built-up anger and resentment left over from their freshman years fuels the troubles of the next group of ninth graders.

It is, however, the responsibility of these older students to help terminate this apparently endless cycle. Freshmen hazing can be minimized—if not completely eradicated—if the other students decide to take the initiative and treat them as peers. Someone once said, “Life is like a mirror. Treat others how you would want to be treated.” Unfortunately, in the mirror of life, bad actions reflect on to and affect all.

The truth is that there is no justification to discriminate against people who are different. This applies to people of another religion, ethnicity, social class or, in this case, educational class. Mistreatment and bullying have the potential to affect a person’s personality and self-esteem.

Many upperclassmen are probably thinking, “We all went through it. So shouldn’t they?” In reality, it is wrong to wish misfortune on others, even if one has found adversity in the past.

Think about how you felt as a freshman—intimidated, confused and scared. Do you really want other people to go through that? This hypocrisy, combined with the irony of Link Leaders welcoming freshmen, then sometimes losing interest in them later on, highlights the injustice of this situation.

Some freshmen claim that they have not been affected by this “grade-ism,” but others admit to being victim to some form of bullying, whether it be teasing, harassment or even the quiet utterance about “those freshmen.”

Kindness and sympathy are integral to creating a better high school environment. Students—Link Leaders especially—should make incoming freshmen feel welcome in class, during Homecoming and around campus. If anything, students need to think before acting, as the insignificant, spontaneous word of one person can have effects on others that are much greater than anticipated.

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