Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor: I am writing in response to the Commentary titled “Seniority Rules,” published in the week of October 21. As someone who has been through the four years of Andover and is now back to the “bottom of the totem pole” in college, I certainly agree with the writer that seniority is important. It conveys a sense of experience and acumen that is only earned through years spent on Andover campus. Of course, one can be more intelligent than older students; I have seen plenty of freshmen whose writing skills or knowledge of multivariable calculus exceed even those of the smartest senior. But experience and seniority are important beyond imagination. There is a reason that the heads of student clubs at Andover—with few exceptions—are all seniors. It is not because they are automatically smarter (if that was the case, the distribution would not be so strongly skewed toward seniors). It is because they have the wisdom that accompanies experience. Yet, I am puzzled as to how this relates to the writer’s situation in the Den. What does seniority and experience have to do with who gets to change the TV channel? The lowers may have one fewer year of Andover experience than uppers, but does that lack of experience strip them of their right to change the TV channel? Sure, it may have been an unspoken rule that a more senior student gets to change the channel however he wishes, but only because it has been that way in the past does not mean it has to be that way in the future as well. To curtail the rights of younger students based solely on a “I am older so I get to decide” argument is, in my opinion, stupid and unreasonable. It is worse than the common fallacy of appeal to authority; it is an appeal to irrelevant authority. One may ask, “Isn’t this ‘right’ a perk that comes with the responsibility of mentoring younger students?” But the “responsibility” that older students have is not a tradable commodity. It is not something you trade in exchange for “perks.” Many, if not all, Andover students help their younger counterparts not because they expect something in return but because it is simply the non sibi thing to do. Framing this responsibility as a tradable commodity cheapens the value of the student interaction at Andover. In the interaction between older and younger student at Andover, there is no give-and-take exchange. There is only mutual respect. And to respect and yield to someone is strictly a personal choice. You cannot force respect upon others. Sincerely, Kwon-Yong Jin ‘09