Institutionalized Freshman Hazing Counter to Culture

Kelly Pien, Staff Writer

I had been warned of it by many people.

Still, as a freshman, I cringed when the gym erupted into boos at the Welcome Back Rally.

It seems contrary to the kind of “I love you/you love me/we’re all one big family” culture in Moraga. Nevertheless, many sophomores, juniors, and seniors boo freshmen at rallies with alacrity.

I’ve been trying to figure out why ever since. Surely it must serve some sort of purpose, I reasoned while watching freshmen getting rolled around in garbage cans (another one of my complaints about rallies, but alas, I’ll have to save that for another time).

“I’ve been here for twelve years, and they’ve been getting booed ever since I’ve been here,” said biology teacher Rene Gillibert.

I can’t come up with a single good reason why freshmen should be booed at rallies.

It’s not because the non-freshmen are bullies and want to make us feel bad about ourselves. That just doesn’t match up with my observations of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. At least in my experience, they have generally been very nice to freshmen.

“It’s just for fun, something meant to be silly,” Gillibert added.

Maybe it’s entertaining for those doing the booing. But I don’t see how it’s entertaining to boo anyone, no matter who they are. Perhaps if the freshmen have some sort of funny reaction, but everyone around me at the Welcome Back Rally looked as though they were being executed by guillotine. Somewhat grim, somewhat resigned to their fates of being booed.

“I don’t really care about it,” said freshman Ellen Gerst.

In my opinion, watching grim, resigned people is not interesting. Off with that idea’s head.

“You were booed as a freshman, so you kind of want to boo the freshmen next year,” said Kayla Nason, a sophomore. This means, in other words, it’s a way of initiating the freshmen into high school. An institutionalized cycle of demeaning behavior.

Booing could be considered hazing, since the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hazing as “an initiation process involving harassment.” According to the student handbook, “Hazing activities of any type are inconsistent with the educational goals of the school district and are prohibited at all times.”

If hazing activities are “prohibited at all times,” then they should not be allowed at rallies. Unless, of course, rallies don’t count as time, which doesn’t make sense.

From my research and reasoning, booing the freshmen doesn’t serve any real purpose. It’s a cycle, and one that has been repeating itself for long enough. Perhaps it’s time to end this useless tradition.