Who are the Class of 1998?

Insight

Freshmen. You've seen them in the halls, you've watched them stumble in from various parties. You've pointed out buildings to them. Most upperclassmen simply shake their heads or grin when the word passes their lips, others sigh and roll their eyes. Both a blessing and a curse, you can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em. These seem to be the feelings of most returning students.

But what about the Class of 1998? How do they feel about the upperclassmen? Perhaps there is a similar sentiment among the silent masses. Do they enjoy being referred to as "fresh meat", "innocent", or even "new victims"? The common response is no. But when have American University students ever been common?

Most of the incoming freshmen (or, being here in DC, "freshpeople") are enjoying their experience. They have escaped the confines of their parents, and therefore are free to leave clothes everywhere, eat whatever and whenever they please, sleep wherever they want - in short, follow any crazy impulse that attacks them.

But even sophomores have learned that not every impulse is a good one to follow whether it's going to a party "just for a little while" before tomorrow morning's test, or simply taking 8:30 a.m. classes. The opportunity to make mistakes, dwell on them, and finally get over them are all waiting for any stressed freshman. But through the problems, you have to remember, you're finally independent. Have fun!

Even though there are benefits, there are always some drawbacks. Freshmen in Anderson look out their windows, still unsure as to the inner workings of AU and feeling somewhat left out. Rowdy fraternities greet each other in the Letts-Anderson quad, lengthy discussions of good clubs and bars float overhead, summers are remembered and memories run rampant.

But the newest members of AU have yet to feel comfortable in the social flow. Unlike their predecessors, there is no one to come back to discuss summer vacations with, only new faces.

As I wandered the campus and various parties, seeing who had returned and who had quietly slipped away to another school, I encountered quite a few people with confused expressions (freshmen) and vacant stares (returning students). As I watched them move through the school, searching for the impossibly hidden classes and the new friends who had promised to meet them there, yet are no where in sight, I was forced back into first-year memories: the maze of halls in the dorm, the embarrassment of a locked door with only a limp towel for protection, the first test (all essay), the hot crowded parties, the ache in my rear after experiencing two and a half hours of class. But wait a second - this is a reality. For those who still live on campus, manage to shower daily and get to class, these memories have become an existence.

So what is it that separates the old from the new?

Is it perhaps the apologetic look in the eyes of the freshmen as they stammer introductions, or the feeling of deserving superiority in the hearts of the upperclassmen? Perhaps it's the way the shower thongs fit comfortably on the returning students, while the new girls still attempt to shave their legs without it looking like a suicide attempt gone awry. Or maybe even the calm nonchalance of continually get an annoying high-pitched ringing. Either way it is an age old feeling of college life.

So remember, freshmen, everyone at this campus has gone through the equivalent of what you're going through, and in certain respects still are. Stand tall, dial nine to get off campus, shower at odd hours to ensure hot water, don't buy anything that needs to be ironed, and stock up on water for that "morning after" headache.

Welcome, to the new kids.

To everyone else, welcome back.

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