The independent news organization of Duke University

On freshmen

Living on East Campus didn’t seem like a good idea. After all, it was so doggone far-gone into Heart of Darkness Durham, and the freshmen would probably be mad arrow-shooting savages, crazier than Donald Rumsfeld rolling on Gin and J-e-s-u-s. I remembered the old days when we used to smoke each other out with the fire extinguishers by shooting them under the doors. How do you like the smell of monoammonium phosphate in the morning, biatch?

And I remembered the op-ed piece from a well-known faculty in residence last year about freshmen gone wild, describing how they destroyed his artwork and made some postmodern masterworks of their own by smearing door handles with semen.

These were the things I was expecting. Yet during my time as an East Campus RA, their good qualities have become apparent, if not altogether obvious. So what’s there to like about freshmen?

First off, they’re 15 pounds farther away from collapsing the BC walkway than the rest of us and don’t have dark circles under their eyes and the big aviator sunglasses required to hide them. And they have so much spunk. Some of them are falling into the same gutters we fell into, but hey, it happens. Life should be fun or else you should shoot yourself. Happily, though, not many freshmen are shooting themselves these days because their existential angst is pacified with soothing iTunes lullabies. Sometimes I’m sure that the iPod initiative was part of an elaborate plot by CAPS. That or “The Association of Persons Against Needless Human Interaction.”

And they take really good notes. If I pass Bio 26L, she will be responsible. She writes with such beautiful script and pays attention. Girls who do science, like female drill sergeants, are unbearably hot.

But seriously, we have much to learn from freshmen, like how not to drink and have sex. Ideally, you’re not supposed to fall down during either, and—contrary to the popular practice—only one is allowed at Parizade.

We can also learn from their pep. These kids have a lot of get-up and go. You ought to see some of the craps they take! One athlete closed the bathroom for half a day over spring break with one! Really amazing! It was terrifying. Worse I think than the sulfur-water flood we had.

And they’re smart, whether they know it or not. Anyone who has taken classes with these child wonders can attest to how much tougher classes have become since they came around. I, for one, am sure that they’re phasing out my I.Q. range out here, in the unlikely event it ever was in.

And remember how “people” used to smoke pot in “their” rooms by dismantling the smoke detector and stuffing wet towels under the door and exhaling out the window? These petit Einsteins don’t do any of that. They don’t even use fire. They use vaporizers that heat weed up to a temperature high enough to evaporate the THC without actually igniting the plant fibers. It’s completely odorless and RA-proof. That’s for tobacco, man! they say, when I ask.

The East Campus vibe is one that West Campus residents might want to borrow some from. Freshmen are more social, if less independent. They’re always willing to talk, to tell a good story, to ask a stupid question. Though susceptible to herd mentality and blowing some things out of proportion, they rarely show the end-stage cynicism that sometimes creeps into the upperclassmen psyche.

Of course this is not to say that all is well with them. Coming to a university filled with effortlessly perfect, high-achieving individuals just like you and competing with them breeds its share of distress, but they’ll get over this.

Another unfortunate slap from the Hand of Fate concerns the fact that, for a lot of them, contact with the opposite sex tends to be limited and alcohol inspired. This has a lot to do with gender-specific halls, which do nothing to prevent “hooking up” but do a lot to prevent day-to day interaction. Though of course there are exceptions, for most folks, going to a hall specific to the opposite sex is an unthinkable act of proactivity.

But they’ll get over this, too. And you can help. Hang your hat at night on East Campus sometime. Unless it’s in my room, you won’t regret it.

Matt Gillum is a Trinity senior. His column appears Wednesdays.


Share and discuss “On freshmen” on social media.