Seniority Must Stay

It is reasonable that Preps, who have the least experience at the school, should not have the same privileges and responsibilities as the Seniors. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable for the Class of 2022 to enjoy and even expect the privileges that seniority brings.

     The current conversation about seniority stems from an underlying debate that has gone on for years: power dynamics at the school. Some community members believe that this tradition has been abused and exploited by Seniors who use their privileges to demean and harass other students. This is a valid viewpoint, but abolishing seniority entirely will ultimately do more harm than good – the eradication of this old and cherished tradition may conversely create a backlash among the student body. It is important to note that Seniors are in a unique situation that requires balancing leadership positions with heavy course loads and college applications. According to Duncan Griffin ’22, “[Seniority is] a reward, a respect given to Seniors [because they] are expected to be leaders of the school. A position with more responsibilities [should also be] given more rewards. “

  Additionally, community members often fail to notice that over time, the tradition of seniority has improved greatly; compared to past years, students generally show more respect for one another. Long gone are the days of hazing and “de-Prepping” new classes upon arrival at the School. Instead, the Seniors of today serve as captains and proctors who introduce and integrate lowerclassmen into the rich character of the school community. In exchange for the responsibility of being leaders and role models, it is reasonable that Seniors should inherit a unique set of privileges that have been passed down by previous classes.

Senior privileges at Hotchkiss are fairly mild compared to other schools. At my previous high school, The Kinkaid School, in Houston, Texas, the entire student center was a Senior-only space. Here, lowerclassmen enjoy benefits, such as the informal designation of the student center as a “Prep space.” Additionally, most of the privileges of seniority, such as Senior Quadchairs and the tradition of Seniors leaving first are harmless by themselves, only becoming an issue when students are purposefully disrespectful towards one another.

     Abolishing seniority does not address the root of the real issue being discussed, which is general disrespect among the student body. Cases of Seniors bullying Preps is on par with the hate symbols we have seen in the past – they stem from are caused by the behaviors of the students themselves, not the tradition. Seniority is not to blame; eliminating it would only erase a tradition that many students look forward to each year.

         I believe that Senior privileges are an important aspect of student life at the school. Not only is Seniority a reward for leadership and experience at this school, it also represents an age-old tradition that has been passed down over the decades. Eventually, we will all have the chance to experience these unique privileges as Seniors, role models, and leaders of the student body.