Reminder To Upperclassmen: You Were Freshmen Once Too

Think back to two, three years ago, maybe even four. It’s one of the total of five hot and sweaty days of the year in Orono, Maine and you’re lugging that stupid refrigerator/microwave combo that they make you buy up three flights of stairs in Andro. As much as we all hate to admit it, we were equally as excited for our parents to leave as we were terrified of it. When we really think back, how did we even make the friends we have now? How did we find our classes? How did we make it back from the first house party of our collegiate career?

As this new year begins and we have almost all but forgotten the smell of Hilltop dining, we must take ourselves a few years back, and relive those same emotions in order to help the ones who are experiencing them now. I’m sure you all can call to mind a few times where you were horribly lost, scared, lonely, or even too excited to contain yourself. But for your enjoyment I’ll set the scene for you.

Your first class of the semester is Monday morning at 8 am in Barrows Hall. Where even is Barrows Hall? You leave your dorm aggressively early with a printed out map of campus in order to find it and you still end up at the Union by accident. You look around, watching the hustle of early morning commuters, terrified to ask someone for directions. But, it’s 7:58 and you’re screwed. In reality, you end up scrambling for another 20 minutes until you finally figure it out. But in a perfect world, an upperclassman would notice the fact that you have no color in your face and your campus map is soaked from your hands sweating and give you the quickest route to Barrows. Be that upperclassman. Notice. Pay attention. Extend a hand.

It’s three weeks into first semester and the library is flooded with students trying to get it together after the first round of exams. Your random Gen Ed elective has a study group that consists of three freshmen, a sophomore, and a senior that just needs the credits. You exchange annoyances about the exam, relief that it’s over, and eventually someone asks, “Okay, what did you get on it?” You try to act like it’s no big deal, but you got a 90 and you’ve already called your parents, your grandparents, and texted your friends from home about it. In reality, you keep your excitement on the low to your study group. But in a perfect world, there would be high fives all around. Be that upperclassman. Encourage. Support. Give the reinforcement for hard work. Chances are that freshman will want that same reaction, and will try harder on the next exam.

It’s Maine Day: aka the best day of the year in Orono. It is the best excuse in the book to have a darty. By this time as a freshman, you’ve made a solid group of friends and can somewhat navigate through the social scene. You started drinking around 10 am and now it’s 3... or 4… who knows… all you remember is… nothing. You’re passed out on the grass in front of a frat house. It reality, your friends will find you and get you home safe (this NEEDS to happen). But in a perfect world, an upperclassman will find you, find your friends, help you arrange a safe ride home, exchange numbers and check up on you afterwards. They’ll keep in touch, offer some advice, become a resource. Be that upperclassman. Look out. Go the extra mile. Remember that freshmen are younger than you and haven’t figured it all out yet. But really, none of us have. Help each other out.

We all made it, found our way, survived and thrived. But we couldn’t have done it without the camaraderie of our peers, or the footsteps that upperclassmen left for us to follow in. That’s why with each passing year since that first day we must remind ourselves of our role as the upperclassman that we so desperately needed as freshmen. It will not only make UMaine more inclusive, supportive, and helpful, but it will create a safer and happier environment for all students. Remember this as we move into this next school year.