Letter to the editor: Upperclassman should offer support, not ridicule

Khayree Fitten

As the largest freshman class in university history has flooded campus, I have taken note of our new students. It then comes as a surprise to no one that I have observed a sea of red drawstring backpacks, ISU lanyards, white T-shirts that feature the school fight song and a plethora of faces hidden behind maps.

More importantly, I have tried to observe the attitudes and actions of upperclassmen peers towards the incoming class. Again, I’m not making any news by reporting the disparaging comments and ridicule of “freshmen” shirts or bags, and statements like “don’t look like a freshman just because you are one.”

I served as a Cyclone Aide during new student orientation and Destination Iowa State programs over the past months, and as someone whose job it is to speak positively and reassuringly about transitioning to college and the “Iowa State experience,” I find it disconcerting to find such animosity and hostility towards freshman.

I don’t believe it speaks highly of our student population that as soon as new students arrive on campus, we initiate an informal process of hazing. During the most critical and formative weeks of their college experience, they are subjected to mockery and indifference from the men and women who are supposed to help guide them through this journey we call college.

I especially take offense to this, because I know everything that goes into orientation and Destination Iowa State programs. Thousands of hours of manpower are sacrificed toward the benefit of freshman just to be unraveled by upperclassmen as soon as they arrive in Ames.

I’m under no illusion that when 6,000 new people arrive in the dorms that rainbows will fill the sky and unicorns will carry students to CyRide stops, but I do encourage everyone to consider the words of ISU Alumni Association President Jeff Johnson in his remarks to new students at Destination Iowa State: “Forget right now that you’re new. Forget that you’re freshman. All you need to think about is being a member of CyclONE Nation.”