by Jackie Zhang, Staff Writer, November 2021
As the first semester reaches its end, I have noticed a clear underlying tension between classes. From dirty pointed looks in the Shattuck hallways to whispered gossip in the junior alcoves, something is clearly bothering the upperclassmen. It didn’t bother me at first, but even I’ve begun to take note of this increasingly growing irritant. The elephant in the room must be addressed: the underclassmen have too much power in the school and must be stopped.
It’s hard to think of when this deadly power imbalance began to take shape, as it has almost become a part of the “new normal.” But if one carefully examines the course of events that has taken place before this year, the beginning of the whole situation can be traced back to September 2020 with the implementation of hybrid classes. This deadly separation of the grades created a chasm between the lower and upper classes, introducing social dynamics never seen before.
Some upperclassmen identified how this disconnection gave the younger students a feeling of authority. “COVID-19 is definitely the main reason they’re this way because last year the freshmen were the top dogs because there was no one older than them to teach them and put them in their place,” Dorothy Zhang (Class II) said. The lack of a commanding force to put down these young rascals has led them to develop a sense of arrogance that has never been seen before. They have become an unstoppable, terrorizing force.
Upperclassmen also agree that the overall social dynamics of the students have been ruined. “I’d like to start by saying that I obviously love all the underclassmen, but there’s been a deterioration of what we expect the dynamics between the grades to be,” Julia Maranhao-Wong (Class I) said. Others agree that these messed-up dynamics have led to the underclassmen boldly intruding upon the spaces of juniors and seniors without considering the consequences. “There’s nothing wrong with underclassmen wanting to hang out with us, but at the same time they need to be respectful of our spaces because the alcoves are separated into different grade sections. It’s not unknown. It’s not a hard concept to grasp. I don’t know why they can’t just stay in their own places,” Zhang said. It’s unspeakably clear that the middle schoolers, freshmen, and sophomores do not know their place in this school, leading them to become sources of enormous aggravation.
All of this isn’t an exaggeration. There have been many documented cases of underclassmen showing their impudence. Many juniors and seniors can report situations in which they have overstepped the unspoken boundaries from starting standing ovations in assembly to cutting in front of upperclassmen at the lunch line. “A few sixies cut in the middle of the ice cream line which really irritated the upper schoolers. I got bullied by a freshman I don’t even know for putting pickles in my burger today. It’s too much,” Maranhao-Wong said, tears in her eyes. This endless harassment is not okay and something needs to be done about it before the entire school dissolves into complete and utter anarchy.
Solutions must be drawn up to confront this state of emergency. Upperclassmen have many ideas. Some suggest more moderate ways of dealing with the issue. Maranhao-Wong said, “I suggest that we begin making little family units with the seniors as ‘parents’ and the younger students as ‘children’ that have to report to them constantly. I think this is the only way to deal with this absolutely devastating epidemic.” Others think that a more violent approach is necessary. “We need to have a crushing hand on all the underclassmen that dare disrespect us. I wish they would be more scared of us. The underclassmen must take a domineering role when interacting with these little children,” Zhang said.
I personally agree with Zhang. They need to know that they are inferior to us and return to living in the shadows of society, frightened and terrified. I understand they are small and have many years ahead to learn, so it’s even more crucial to stamp their rebellious streak down before it gets out of hand.