The Fresh Prince of Tyranny

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Issue 16, Volume 111

By Asa Muhammad 

After 18 months of remote learning, we will hopefully return to the school building. Unfortunately, only some of us will return. And the ones who won’t? Well, they’re the lucky ones. The Stuyvesant we’re coming back to won’t be the same as the one we left, and here’s why.

First and foremost, we lost two cycles of upperclassmen to the coronavirus, with the Class of ’22 reigning as seniors. This throne is not unearned, but the students are unprepared. How can children who left as mere sophomores assume their role as chieftains? They cannot. While their growth has not stagnated and ’22 endured a hellish junior year, they did so with the bare minimum. They all experienced the suffering intrinsic to junior year, but that suffering bore no fruit. There was no assumption of responsibility (that was a burden for Google Translate and Symbolab). There were no freshmen to question their claims to the third-floor atrium. There were no seniors to steal their SING! victory and no camaraderie formed in the late hours of SING! preparation. The grade is fractured. Despite their resilience, they are unfit to rule.

’22 would, under normal circumstances, ascend to their rightful place with the sheer hubris of senioritis acting as their mandate of heaven, but the 2021-2022 school year faces an unprecedented evil. Worse than the pandemic is the three years of freshmen returning to the school. Normally, high schools function with one year of freshmen, a group so emblazoned by their acceptance to Stuyvesant and journey into high school that they scoff at a hierarchy they do not understand. The freshmen see the perceived evils of upperclassmen priority for program changes, locker assignments, and unofficial hangout spots. This enrages them, but they are too naive to realize that these privileges are earned, so they scoff at the rewards the upperclassmen have been bestowed for surviving multiple years of suffering. Their petulance invokes the wrath of three years of upperclassmen, and in doing so, freshmen learn to respect their position until it is their turn to rule.

The freshmen only acquiesce in the face of overwhelming adversity. But next year, there will be no adversity, for there will be three years of freshmen. The class of ’23 will nominally be juniors, but they never completed their freshman year. ’24 will be sophomores, but they never experienced the idiosyncrasies of the building and its people. Some haven’t even attended an in-person class. The class of ’25 will be true freshmen, free of the gossamer claims to power the other two years will attempt. The pride in each year will fester; it will make violent bedfellows with envy, and these nuptials will bear the fruit of indignation undeserved.

Thus, the new Stuyvesant shall consist of three years of freshman and a struggling ruling class. Accusations of ineptitude will fly, and without an agreed-upon hierarchy of students or a complacent middle class of sophomores and juniors, freshman insurrectionists will have the means to demand the respect they do not deserve. A ruling class, already struggling to gain its footing, and a disillusioned majority courting delusions of grandeur will clash, and I fear that the vile, prepubescent, underdeveloped beast that is the freshman population may win and that their victory will plunge Stuyvesant into the umbra inevitable in revolutions both physical and political.