Mistreatment of freshmen is ‘just the way things are’


Graphic by Michelle Yamamoto

Seniors turn their backs on freshman as a Lincoln assembly tradition.

The freshman class, adorned in a patchwork of ill-assorted purple, witness a blinding sea of red; the seniors have turned their backs to them. Although administration and flock leaders encourage the upperclassmen to turn back around, the juniors soon join in, followed by the sophomores. With the exception of the new freshman colors, October’s Color Wars assembly adhered to tradition.

Over time, this sentiment has expressed itself in ways beyond the assembly; seniors, for instance, are known to “trash” the freshman hallway on Color Wars week, and freshmen are often jokingly shunned and belittled in Lincoln social settings.

In recent years, Lincoln administrators have been more adamant about ending the practice of “booing and shunning” the freshmen. These concerns have been routinely dismissed as a joke by students who view it as a longstanding Lincoln tradition. This year, the administration and several students in the leadership class strongly discouraged any form of mistreatment of the freshmen at the Color Wars assembly. 

“Booing and shunning are not inclusive, nor do they help build community,” says principal Peyton Chapman. 

Leadership teacher Lisa Klein-Wolf views the controversy as a moral issue.

“When students boo or shun, they are acting in a way that does not align with their values,” states Klein-Wolf. “Although it might just be in good fun, the act itself is unkind.”

In spite of these administrative concerns, many freshmen are supportive or indifferent to the tradition.

“I don’t think we were getting bullied,” says freshman Ellie Davies. “When we’re seniors, we will be able to do what the seniors did this year.”

Freshman Lena Frasier even said that she “didn’t think that freshmen were even bullied [at the assembly], and next year [she’ll] want to do that to the freshmen.”

While some freshmen may not care about the way they were treated at the Color Wars assembly, others say that the tradition of booing and shunning comes at a cost. 

One freshman, who asked to remain anonymous, believes that the booing detracts from school spirit. 

“When the seniors start to boo before we even chant,” said the student, “ it makes us not want to chant at all.”

Many upperclassmen believe that the booing and shunning is just a fun tradition to abide by. 

“It’s nothing personal,” said junior Margot Andres. “When we were freshmen, we were booed and shunned, but we were able to look forward to doing that when we become seniors.”

Junior Kylar Nguyen agrees that it’s a long-running joke to “mistreat” freshmen, not just at Lincoln, but at most high schools as well. 

“We don’t actually mean anything by booing and shunning them, but that’s just the way things are,” said Nguyen.

Although the administration believes that these actions are harmful, whether or not future non-freshmen will abide by these new standards is still unclear.