Class Division Detrimental to School Comradery

Emma Truchan, Features Editor

Picture the Homecoming Pep Rally, an event that is meant to energize students to support their school and peers. But this celebration of school pride too often turns into a grade versus grade battle for superiority. Pep rallies are certainly one of the most extreme cases of this class division at UC High, but they reveal a big problem in the social climate. The long-standing practice of viewing upperclassmen as superior has prevailed over years, fully rooting itself in high school culture. This custom of class division is simply an immature attempt at creating a power imbalance, and creates an unwelcoming campus culture towards underclassmen.

   Tension between classes naturally lends itself to uncomfortability. Freshman Jenna Amos noted that this false sense of “senior superiority” has contributed to an unfriendly environment at UC High. Amos said, “A lot of people will tease freshmen as a joke, but it adds up. When upperclassmen are always poking fun at underclassmen it feels like they don’t have respect for you.” This shows how class division is only a matter of respect, or lack thereof, given to people of a certain grade, but age should not be a determining factor in the amount of respect a student deserves.

   This can be a challenge, though, when the seed of resentment is planted early on. Physics Teacher and Academic League Coach Scott Patterson said, “If [a senior] was in that position, and knows what it was like, why not try to make that easier for someone else? Instead of thinking ‘oh, I suffered through this and, now [underclassmen] have to suffer through it too.’” Unfortunately, the latter rings true to the behavior of many upperclassmen. This vicious cycle of disrespect has propelled UC High into an entrenched system of tension between lower and upperclassmen, thus creating a campus culture of inter-class friction.

   Considering how much underclassmen contribute to UC High, this class tension is a silly and immature custom. “Although many underclassmen still experience a transition period from middle school to high school, they greatly contribute to our campus culture. A lot of them are very involved in clubs and sports,” A.S.B. Student Liaison Senior Shayna Meltzer said. Underclassmen provide so much value to UC High, and to undermine that on the basis of seniority is superficial. Students across grade levels attend sports games, pep rallies, and dances, thus equally supporting UC High as much as any upperclassmen.

   Meltzer observed that class division has recently gone beyond “upperclassmen versus underclassmen,” and there’s even hostility within these sections. Meltzer said that hostility towards freshmen has been a persistent high school tradition, but there’s an increasing trend of enmity towards other grade levels as well. “Most people have their opposition toward the freshmen, and I think that’s always been a thing… But I feel like there’s definitely more division within other grades now as well,” she stated. She continued to say that she believes this comes from generalizing an entire grade, rather than seeing individual students as people. In this, Meltzer is exactly right. As described by Psychology Today, generalization is an adaptive tool that allows people to make quick judgements, but can often be misaligned with reality ( This shows that one’s negative opinion of one class shouldn’t apply to all students that belong to that graduating year.

   Some may argue that students have a right to favor their class over others. This is understandable with the current “us-versus-them” mentality, which aggressively pits classes against each other. But school unity isn’t an attack on class pride; feeling a sense of community among one’s grade level further contributes to a welcoming school environment. It is when the idea that one class is inherently superior to another because of seniority that “pride” turns into hostility. But, as Meltzer noted, healthy and friendly competition between classes, such as the annual Powderpuff Game, encourages camaraderie across grade levels. “I think the kind of school-organized events that involve friendly competition actually bring classes closer together,” Meltzer said. Although it poses one class against another, this school-sanctioned event brings multiple grade levels together to have fun cooperatively.

   To appreciate students as individuals is to appreciate UC High as a whole. The culture of senior superiority that has long plagued high schools undermines this with an “us-versus-you” mentality, lending itself to division rather than solidarity. High school encompasses four years of graduating classes, not only upperclassmen. It’s time to truly recognize this so that students across grade levels can support each other and encourage a welcoming, respectful environment for everyone. By supporting peers rather than tearing them down, maybe our pep rallies will actually have “pep” in the future.