Incoming: The Culture of Stuy’s Biggest Facebook Groups
Reading Time: 5 minutes
With thousands of members each and hundreds of posts every month, the “Dear Incoming Stuyvesant Class of…” Facebook groups have an undeniable influence on the Stuyvesant student body. Currently, there are five main “Incoming Class” Facebook groups in use (the class of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024), and together they have a total of 13,436 combined members. As sophomore Neve Diaz-Carr puts it, “It’s the Stuy norm. Everybody uses it. If you’re not on it, you’re going to end up missing tons of vital information and news.”
However, the power that these groups hold can often be a double-edged sword. While these groups can be used to spread awareness, acquire information, or ask for help, there are clear unspoken rules surrounding these forums that, when broken, can lead to the cultivation of a toxic Facebook environment. One post from a current eighth-grader in the “Incoming Class of 2024” group inquiring about how to get a 97 grade-point average has already garnered a lot of negative attention and scrutiny in the comments and reactions. Sixty-four percent of the reactions to this curious incoming freshman’s post were “laugh reacts,” and many of the comments centered around the phrase “you don’t.”
Sophomore Shivali Korgaonkar objects to the reactions that posts like these have garnered. “I think it's the job of the upperclassmen to give advice to these people who are asking genuine questions instead of laughing at them,” she said. “It’s just not a productive way to help these concerned students, and nobody benefits in the end.” However, Korgaonkar does appreciate the groups for all of the ways that they have aided her during her time at Stuyvesant. She cites it as a major source of guidance in her early years at Stuyvesant, saying “The Incoming groups have been super helpful to me because they really helped me understand some fundamental things about the situation that I was walking into as a freshman and really guided my choices when it came to balancing my school and personal life.”
Positive interactions like these have made the “Dear Incoming” groups a powerful force for so many Stuyvesant students. These forums play a fundamental role in connecting our 3,334-person student body with the help that they need in navigating the complexities of our often chaotic and stressful school environment. The comments sections of most posts are usually flooded with support from complete strangers, with a culture of positivity prevailing in the majority of Incoming group interactions. According to incoming freshman Anthony Chen, “I haven’t seen an example of toxic Stuyvesant culture in the incoming freshmen Facebook group, just positive ones that are welcoming and help adapt to a new life in Stuyvesant.” However, this simply isn’t the case for all forum posts, as a culture of negativity still feels very prevalent in the background of a notable minority of posts.
Sophomore Leah D’Silva can see both sides of the spectrum. “While I feel that most interactions on the Incoming groups are positive, there are always a few kids that are on there that ask about how to get 98s or 99s in a class, and that’s when people come on and get really negative, which makes me feel bad for the kids asking the questions,” D’Silva said. “Posting these comments that shame students is really not a justified practice, and while it may seem funny from an outsider’s perspective, it’s a norm that needs to stop.”
Shaming is a tool seen in more places than just that one post inquiring about grades. In one post from February, one user commented on the accumulation of garbage on the half floor, specifically pinpointing freshmen as the source of the issue. Comments ranged from defensive (“How do you know it’s freshmen? Maybe it's just the seniors skipping class.”) to decisive finger-pointing (“Something tells me a good portion of these freshmen are also the ones who leave the cafeteria a mess. Just a wild guess”). Whichever way you see it, it is clear that this was not a productive discourse. Most of the whopping 110 comments are a testament to the intense shaming culture taking place as a result of all grades’ responses to the situation.
Freshman Pedro Ezquer objects to this treatment of his grade. “I have seen the posts calling out freshmen, and I personally think they’re stupid. They’re assuming only freshmen are doing that when in reality it was also upperclassmen.”
While fellow freshman Maya Doron-Repa agrees with this sentiment, she also appreciates all that the group has done for her. “Of course, there are positive things about the Facebook groups, like being able to get answers for questions you have or giving a gentle reminder to a certain grade or group of students who need it. I have also seen a lot of hate particularly in the 2024 group, where many students take it upon themselves to make fun of the incoming freshmen even though they don’t know them.”
However, many students believe that the most toxic aspect of these groups is not the comments sections on certain presumptuous posts at all but rather those posts themselves. While it is true that most people that break the “unspoken rules” of the Stuyvesant Incoming Class Facebook groups are new to the school, it is bad practice in any public forum to post messages that might make other students feel less than.
Korgaonkar agrees wholeheartedly with this sentiment. “Stuyvesant has this naturally competitive environment, and sometimes students, especially freshmen in my experience, will use the groups almost as a place to flex what classes they’ve gotten into [and what grades they’re getting],” she said.
However, some people are taking the sanctity of the Facebook groups into their own hands. According to Student Union (SU) Vice President Julian Giordano, the SU and Caucus Presidents have taken it upon themselves to make sure that the forums run smoothly as group admins. Giordano said, “It’s not a formal position, but it’s a responsibility we willingly take on to make sure that the advice groups stay free of spam and hateful comments and that they can be a real resource for Stuy students.” Giordano also remarked upon the strong support system that has helped build up the Incoming groups to what they are today. Citing a recent post regarding one student’s struggle with keeping on top of work in the age of the coronavirus, he commended the reaction of the student body. “Fellow students and upperclassmen immediately responded, sharing similar situations that they’re experiencing and giving advice as to how to stay on top of work with everything going on,” he remarked. “There are currently over 50 comments on the post and over 150 reactions, and I think that's a testament to the supportive culture of the Incoming advice groups.”
It’s clear that the “Incoming Class” Facebook groups are an imperfect series of forums. While there is often a culture of shaming, finger-pointing, and showing off that manifests in the groups, there is usually a much stronger positive aura that has allowed thousands of students to gain experience and guidance throughout the years. They may be flawed, but the Incoming groups are still an incredibly valuable resource for concerned students and their knowledgeable classmates regardless. It is up to us to keep the peace in these forums and hold ourselves back from unnecessary shaming. Additionally, it is important to keep Stuyvesant’s “unspoken rules” in mind and filter our posts accordingly, so as not to make any fellow group members feel less than. While maintaining a pleasant Incoming group environment is a tenuous balance, it is absolutely achievable and up to the individual to fulfill.