On a cold October morning, a handful of juniors made a fateful decision as they groped through their closet for a comfortable sweatshirt. They arrived at school with lettering stamped across their chests, spelling out the all-too familiar names: YALE, BROWN, STANFORD–words they would soon wholly regret advertising.
The senior class, as stressed out as James Franco is attractive, stormed the offices of the authorities, torches and pitchforks in hand, and insisted that this wrong be righted. With early application due dates rearing their collegiate heads, they argued, the apparel of the junior class was insensitive, pretentious, and, in a word, inexcusable.
The two sides have now reached some kind of a stalemate. And now that the cacophony has subsided, may I suggest that our reaction was a bit overblown?
Let me start by pointing out some painful truths. First, this firestorm erupted on a free dress day, a day when people are allowed to wear whatever they want (yes, even if it makes you nervous about your future). If a junior is wearing a college sweatshirt on a uniform day, I am all in favor of subjecting them to the tidal wave of demerits they deserve. This, however, was not the case.
Second, I hope none of us think ourselves so important that a person would plan their entire outfit around offending us. But I am not going to waste this small space trying to convince my classmates that the juniors did nothing wrong- -if there’s one thing I admire about the class of 2010, it’s their loyalty to their convictions.
What really bothers me about this whole fiasco is the bigger picture–how we allowed ourselves to (in the words of President Obama) get all wee-weed up about this.
Believe me, it is a stressful time. I will not deny that. But the amount of gravity we are placing upon a mere four years of our lives is absolutely ridiculous. Do we all really want to believe that the greatest years of our lives end at 22? As for the argument that our futures are dictated by our bachelor’s degree, that I also find depressingly limiting, and untrue. When I hear a fellow schoolmate proudly claiming that movies like Rent and Into the Wild “changed my life,” I would hope that they can recognize their own hypocrisy in obsessing over academic establishments.
Let’s say, however, you are not one to swoon over movies that romanticize the “downwith-the-people” lifestyle. Let’s say you are simply one of those who argued that juniors fail to understand “what we are going through.” I understand that the college process is a mixture of emotions, but I urge you to make sure that the feeling that rises to the top is one of gratitude. “What we are going through” deals with a small fly in the overall caviar of our exceedingly privileged lives. I hate to get all “people are starving in Africa,” on you, but as we learned from Dr. Mathabane, people are not only starving in Africa, but getting their feet eaten off by rats in Africa. If I recall, every member of the student body stood up in applause for his advice to be thankful for what we have.
Let’s not make fools of ourselves with contradictory behavior. Making mountains out of outerwear will not get you into college.