Monday, May 5, 2014

Sophomores Face Parking Discrimination

My school has over 2,000 students this year. That's not the most we've ever crammed into the building, but it's a lot. Once I had to park at the church across the street because there was not a single spot left. It bothered me, of course, but I knew it was my own fault. Early bird gets the spot. It grows harder towards the end of the year as more and more sophomores get their licenses.
Now our school's come up with their idea of a solution: ban sophomores from parking. As of next year, sophomores will not be allowed to purchase those little purple windshield stickers that allow us to leave our cars on school property during the day.
When my history teacher announced this to my class, he asked, "How many of you are glad this didn't happen when you were sophomores?"
Hands flew into the air.
"Okay. But how many of you are glad it's happening now?"
I was dismayed to see even more hands rise. I talked before about how desperate students are to be king of the hill. When we're bullied as children, we want to rise up and bully the class behind us, not become the compassionate older friends we once wanted.
I've always been glad my school doesn't discriminate to the extent others do. When some girls in my math class struck up a conversation about prom last year, our substitute teacher asked, "How could prom be an issue for you? Aren't you sophomores?"
In Salt Lake County, most students don't even date until their sixteenth birthdays. It's an LDS thing. Even if you want to date younger, a huge chunk of the school population won't take you out. Because of this, many sophomores don't go to prom. Either they haven't turned sixteen yet or they haven't been dating long enough to find someone worth inviting. Our school could easily restrict prom to juniors and seniors only. Schools all over the country do the same, and they don't even have our sixteen problem. Parents would probably encourage it. But we don't, and sophomores can enjoy it just like their older friends and siblings.
 I've heard of schools with "senior courtyards" where no one else can eat and "senior parking lots". As if it wasn't enough that seniors have lighter schedules and an easier time landing spots in a school play or sports team. I'm worried this rule will help upperclassmen develop a superiority complex.
At the beginning of the school year, I wandered into an assembly with Brenna, my sophomore friend. It was her first time in the auditorium besides those getting-to-know-high-school meetings. We had trouble finding a seat. The first row which was largely unoccupied. Sit in the back and you can text or read or chat. But stay up front and you have to stare the speakers in the face the whole time.
"Let's sit on the front row," I said, "There's no one there."
Brenna looked doubtful. "I don' t know. I think it's reserved for seniors."
It wasn't. You can sit anywhere you want in our auditorium. No one ever told us otherwise. But still, we walk into high school expecting to be treated like an underdog. That's why we're so eager to reign over the lower grades as seniors.
I've tried to fight back against this cycle. I still remember what it's like to be the smallest kid on the playground. I won't let myself forget. Isn't it enough that sophomores already feel inferior to the upper grades? We don't need to treat them as if it's true.
Deny a privilege to one group while handing it out to others is discrimination. It may be justified by our crowding problems, but justified doesn't mean just.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry that people are celebrating the fact that sophomores won't be able to park next year but you have to draw a line somewhere. RHS was extremely large when my oldest attended and the policy was that sophomores couldn't buy parking passes. He didn't like it but he understood that something had to give. He was grateful that he had 2 years of being able to buy a pass. For his sophomore year, he just got up early to be one of the few lucky ones to be able to park on the street.

    It's not fair but I'm not sure what an equitable solution would be. Do you have any ideas?