Discussion on the divide between first years and upperclassmen

Alastair Allen, Staff Writer

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The Union student body is often emphasized as being a community of students that strives to treat each other along lines of respect and understanding. While this true for the most part, it is hard to characterize the student body as cohesive. The divide between first years and Upperclassmen plays a large part in this. These divisions are unavoidable–people have always organized themselves into different social groups based on similar interests and activities. Sure, people have friends and connections outside of these groupings, but these groupings largely define the social connections of students.

However, there is a whole different paradigm between First years and upperclassmen. First years seem to exist on campus separate from the rest of the student body. They may be part of the same sports team or club as upperclassmen, but these connections are limited for several reasons. Incoming students move in to Richmond, West, Davidson, or Webster. With presumably no connections to other students coming in, First years often rely on those they live with to foster their first friendships at the school.

Transitioning from high school to college is difficult and having the shared experience of being ‘new’ is important as first years navigate the new realities of college. This is largely a positive thing, allowing new students to learn to grow together into the college experience.

The existence of West as the only dining hall available for first years also feeds into this idea that new students need to stick together as a class in order to learn the ropes. The hope is that the experiences and friendships made in the first year of college will form a solid foundation of class solidarity, and allow students to be well accustomed to Union heading in to their sophomore year.

Once sophomore year rolls around, students are eligible to join Greek Life, hold leadership positions in clubs and they gain experience that puts them in better positions on their respective sports teams. In this sense, the division between freshman and the rest of the school plays into the idea of earning your keep.

Age and experiences warrant more respect and connections, something which is certainly true on a college campus as much as it is in the working world. The freshman experience may not be a pleasant or seemingly rewarding at the time, but it is a necessary stage of development in being a student at this school.