Commentary

Seniority Rules

I walked into The Den on Saturday, looking forward to the Bank of America 500. Some of you may laugh, but, being from South Carolina, I like NASCAR. I walked in and saw only Lowers sitting around. At the next commercial, I changed the channel to the race. Normally, a channel change draws mere groans from underclassmen. This time, there was outrage. One Lower got up and told me, “We’re changing it back,” but I replied, “Definitely not.” Back and forth we went, and I was pretty upset. A Lower challenging an Upper? Thankfully, my friends told me to let it slide before it came to blows, but really, how could this happen? If a Senior had changed the channel on me, I would have understood. The “four-more-years” chant didn’t come from nowhere. With experience and age comes privilege and responsibility, including privileges such as changing the channel in The Den or being first in line at munches. Seniority, even among non-Seniors, is necessary for the school to grow. Juniors and Lowers look at Blue Keys and Seniors with awe, just waiting for their Senior year. Even Uppers can’t wait for their own Vista Walk. The school needs the Seniors to represent the school and to provide good examples for the underclassmen. And with this need comes perks. Upperclassmen have more experience than underclassmen, in the classroom, in the dorm and around campus. When you see someone wearing that Senior shirt, you respect the kind of weight it carries. They’ve been through the perils of Upper spring, they have sat through innumerable All-School meetings and they have seen countless people come and go. Seniors hold positions around campus, from President of MUN to Editor-in-Chief of The Phillipian to the head of FIFA club. And even after they leave, new Seniors fill those spots, learning from the previous Seniors, who learned from the previous Seniors and so on. I still take lessons from Kyle Franco ’10, my prefect during Junior year, on how to deal with problems that come with boarding at Phillips Academy, from homesickness to how to make the best sandwich possible with fourth meal. Underclassmen follow in their footsteps, and if respecting seniority is the only thing underclassmen have to do to repay upperclassmen for paving the way, then that’s a pretty good trade off. Granted, some people see seniority perks as a form of hazing, but I think it’s almost the opposite. Seniors earn their perks by enduring everything Phillips Academy puts them through, from the lack of sleep to cluster soccer in 45-degree weather to the “catboner” insults hollered by townies. Once the underclassmen earn their Senior perks through a few years of hard work and struggling, they will see that this seniority didn’t come with just slapping on a Senior shirt and walking into ASM, screaming because everyone else is. They’ll realize that when they’re screaming “four more years” and changing the channel in the Den, that they earned it. And so, the next time someone older than you changes to the TV, just turn around and daydream about yourself, years older and wiser, sitting in ASM and screaming, “Four more years, four more years.” Ben Manuel is a three-year Upper from Mount Pleasant, SC.