Senior Perspective: Defending Traditions

When I was a freshman, I was very excited to begin attending football games. I had heard about all of the traditions in the student section, and I was ready to partake myself.

My anticipation was undeniable, and as I ran up the bleachers, I knew I was a part of something special. I was slightly taken aback when a senior named Alex approached me and asked for my socks. I did not protest, as I was more or less just excited to make my small contribution to the legendary tradition of the East Grand Rapids student section.

Now, as a senior, I am excited to give freshmen that same experience and feeling. However, there have been objections to these traditions, with some people going as far as to call them bullying. This is particularly disheartening because as someone who has participated on both ends, I know that it is anything but.

Respect is a crucial part of determining the difference between tradition and bullying. When there is a lack of respect and it is clear that an act is being performed for the sole purpose of bringing someone else down, then it is unarguably bullying, and should not be tolerated in – or by – the school.

However, when there is a respectfulness about the actions, and it is clear that there is nothing personal or demeaning to the student, then I believe it is generally acceptable. For example, in regards to the socks tradition in the student section of football games, seniors need to make it clear to the freshmen that they are not being called out individually, and there is nothing personal about stealing their socks.

If this is communicated, it will be clear to the freshmen that it is just lighthearted fun. This respect, however, needs to go both ways. When I was a freshman, I was excited to give up my socks, because it made me feel like I was finally a part of the school community.

Now, participating in the tradition on the other end, I am excited to bring the same feeling towards the new freshman and hope that I can do my little part in helping them to acclimate to the high school atmosphere, and if you do not want to give up your socks, that’s fine. We will go on to the next kid. Bullying is the last thing on my or anyone else’s mind.

These traditions also build bonds outside of the football stadium that translates inside of the school. Shortly after my first football game, I found out I had a class with Alex. Since I had already formed a bond with him outside of school, it was easier to build and grow this relationship inside of the classroom.

We partnered up on countless group projects, and eventually, he chose me to be in his group on a class field trip. The bond between freshman and senior is one that is difficult to build because of the age gap, and the traditional lack of shared classes. If we can use these traditions to help create this bond, it will help create a much stronger and tight-knit community, which benefits all students involved.

I looked on as I saw my socks and the socks of my fellow freshman being waved in the air in an attempt to get the crowd fired up. I knew it was going to be a special four years. While a different school of thought may argue that senior traditions are bullying, I say that they haven’t experienced them.

The sense of camaraderie and belonging that they bring, as well as the bonds that they help to create prove that they are an integral part of our school and should be carried on for years to come.