Privilege

2005-10-04

The following is an article I wrote for our school newspaper, but it had to be cut back significantly and reworded to seem more like a news story. As a result, I had to take out a lot of stuff I liked, so for your reading pleasure and for the benefit of my trampled heart, here's the original version.

Here's a situation: you have government after lunch, and you need another source for your research paper on the implications of nuclear development on conventional military warfare. The computers in the library are all taken by juniors testing the librarians' patience by playing Number Munchers, and you haven't tried to pick up a book since your parents read you Goodnight Moon in the late fall of ninety-three.

Your bibliography needs one more citation, and fast—where can you turn?

If you're in twelfth grade with a reasonably conviction-free criminal record, the answer's a snap. Hop hemispheres on the school Concorde to South Korea during your open hour, and interview Kim Jong-Il, the world's most prominent nuclear threat himself.

You can do that, you know. You have senior privilege.

Senior privilege's benefits are known and envied by younger students all the world over. Explicitly stated benefits, among others, include the ability to walk out the front door or even leave campus without being shot down with tranquilizers for later questioning.

Beside the obvious ones, there are many implied or commonly understood privileges implicitly vested in that liberating red sticker. Among these is the right to walk from the forum to the cafeteria with an overly confident, falsely nonchalant step, and the power to greet all passersby with a suddenly raised chin and the mumbled greeting, "Sup?"

However, new or aspiring seniors need beware of the urban myths that are too commonly heard regarding senior privilege. For example, seniors are not allowed to pick their favorite cars from the teacher's lot, hotwire them, or even to drive them home at the end of the day.

Additionally, seniors actually can't take more than their allotted maximum of four grapes from an underclassman's lunch without their senior privilege card prominently displayed, unobstructed from a hall monitor's view.

But say, by some wild stroke of misfortune, you're not a senior. You're not allowed to leave campus to check out the latest matinee vaudeville offering at the Civic Center. Hall monitors won't let you leave to spend your open hour cruising Rochester's hip daytime clubbing circuit. You have to bring your own grapes from home. Surely your fate must hold some light relief during your daily lunchtime imprisonment. Is there any degree of salvation to be found from this tyrannical oppression?

For better or for worse, the answer is no. Juniors have a sort of cheap rip-off in the form of Junior Privilege, but underclassmen will just have to wait. According to the oft-quoted landmark 2000 court decision Century Seniors v. Everyone Else, "If we had to go through it, so do you."

Remember, the American grade-level hierarchical structure is anything but senseless. Without seniors as the summit of Century's social ladder, all traces of civil order would vanish and anarchy would reign supreme; liberty and democracy would cave to captivity and totalitarianism.

Senior privilege is a weighty responsibility, which none should take lightly. Seniors, take care to exercise ethically sound dominion over the underclassmen. Take full advantage of your opportunities; seize the day. Next year you'll step up another rung on the ladder and be able to go anywhere, whenever you like. As long as you don't have a job, school, relatives, responsibilities, or anything like that.

Everyone else, why not pass the time with a rousing game of Number Munchers?

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