Satire: Stop helping freshmen navigate campus

A little bit of good-natured neglect never hurt anyone

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Jessica Picard/Daily Collegian (2017)

By Kelly McMahan, Collegian Satire Columnist

It wasn’t long ago when I was a freshman myself. Writing this article as a sophomore, I wistfully reminisce about those days while sipping a cup of Metamucil and resting my weary, geriatric bones.

Arriving at the University of Massachusetts, I recall being overwhelmed by the expansive campus, wandering the sidewalks and dining halls like a child who lost her mother in the grocery store. It took me two months to end my dependency on Google Maps, and I’m still too scared to ride the PVTA without the help of a trusted adult, but I nevertheless prevailed.

I attribute my progress to the fact that I never asked for help. I was a true “pull myself up by the bootstraps” college freshman who simply suffered the way nature intended. Being perpetually lost for half of my first semester gave me a true sense of individualism and grit.

Freshmen these days will never learn what that feels like if welcome week organizations and upperclassmen keep babying them. As a community, we need to stop helping incoming freshmen.

“Our organizations help to ease freshmen through the transition of adjusting to college life,” insisted resident assistant and welcome week activity organizer Vera Nice. “Navigating the campus, while exciting, can also feel overwhelming and have harmful effects on student mental health.”

Mental health? Give me a break. Back in the good old days, we didn’t have all these woke folks trying to convince us that silly things like “emotional well-being” and “healthy and sustainable relationships” are so important.

As someone who has done the honorable work of neglecting many freshmen in the name of preserving traditional values, I have compiled a helpful list of unhelpful apps to recommend to any freshman who needs to be put in their place.

To counteract the coddling of bus navigation apps like MoveIt and BusTrack, the apps “LoseIt” and “BusCrack” ensure freshmen don’t have a fighting chance at deciphering Pioneer Valley transit. With LoseIt and BusCrack, freshmen might think they’re catching a bus back to their residence halls in Orchard Hill, but they’re actually on a one-way express trip to Hampshire College. That’s what they get for trying to take the easy way around campus.

Just when the MyUMass app couldn’t get any less helpful, we devised a new app called “MyUm…,” which displays an incorrectly-labeled campus map. You can rest assured that any freshmen dragging around their silly little meter stick to the W.E.B. Du Bois Library for their physics lab will end up at Totman Gym instead.

If a stray freshman approaches you for directions, the most important thing is to assume an offputtingly apathetic scowl. It is your responsibility to impart your negative experiences to these newcomers. If all else fails, kindly and patiently walk them as far as you can into Amherst center and abandon them in a random alleyway. Don’t worry, they’ll probably find their way back. Remember, it’s not hazing. You’re teaching them valuable life skills.

And if you find yourself being personally solicited for directions, be sure that you’re dealing with a freshman instead of a short sophomore. Visually, the common freshman carries a distinct air of untainted enthusiasm and can often be seen proudly wearing their dorm key around their neck on the generic red lanyard given out during move-in day.

Suffering in silence is the ultimate badge of honor. It’s time to take a stand against the rampant indoctrination of freshmen into a social sphere that promotes guidance and generosity.

Kelly McMahan can be reached at [email protected]