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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

A Letter to the Sophomores

by Grace Coberly

Dear Fellow Sophomores,

It’s time we straightened out a problem that has been causing some drama in the past few years: sophomore booths. I know everyone’s sick of talking about it, but we need to be the ones to change it. Booths were an issue last year, an issue that was temporarily solved when Iz Gius and I took matters into our own hands. We talked to deans, wrote in the Forum, and, well, sat in the booths. We got rid of that rule last year. But do you remember when our grade vowed not to do the same thing to the grade below us? That didn’t work out so well, did it…

On September 15 of this year, a brave freshman ate breakfast in a booth with a friend. They were interrupted by five sophomores who walked over and sat down next to them. Here’s how the resulting conversation went:

Sophomore: Can you please leave?

Freshman: What? No. You can’t do that.

Sophomore: You have to leave!

Freshman: You don’t– you can’t force me to leave.

Sophomore: Okay, you guys are gonna be the people that, like, ignore stuff that’s been going on at Latin for four years.

Freshman: Yeah, but like… How are you gonna make freshmen feel welcome if–

Sophomore: That’s what they did to us!

There’s certainly a lot to talk about here. First of all, I’d like to applaud this freshman for standing up to the five (very intimidating) sophomores. She did something that I don’t think most of us would’ve done in her situation. And it eventually worked—the sophomores left her alone. They didn’t leave, but they let her stay. Still, the sophomore brought up an interesting point: they were only doing what had been done to them last year. But do sophomores kick people out of booths for an actual reason?

I spoke with a few fellow sophomores about the issue. They admitted to occasionally staring down freshmen in the booths, and even trying to kick them out once. However, they seemed to have a clear understanding of the freshmen’s position in the booth situation. “You hate it as a freshman…” Ben Golub explains, “but as a sophomore, it’s just something you kinda gain and respect.” We all dealt with this “rule” as freshmen. Even though it’s only been around for a few years, we’ve all been affected by it. I know I have. But as Ben admits, “They can stay. It’s not a rule.” Hear that, freshmen? It’s not a rule. Charlton McArdle was able to summarize his perspective into a single sentence. “We’re not kicking them out because we don’t want them there, we’re more kicking them out because we don’t have a place to sit.” The general opinion of the sophomores is that the freshmen take up too much room in the cafeteria, filling up the normal tables and leaving us with booths as our only option. So when they take the booths too, we have nowhere left to go. As someone who prefers the high tables to booths anyway, this isn’t a problem for me, but for other people, it can be.

Sophomore Ian Cummins believes it’s an issue of power. “This is the only thing we have over anyone else,” he says. “We’re still underclassmen.” This is certainly true. After a year in the upper school, we have nothing to show for it. It seems to be the only way for sophomores to express the tiny amount of seniority we’ve earned. The sophomore class that originally invented the booth rule probably did it because they thought they deserved a little something extra. They may have had good intentions, but I think it’s time we took a long look at what we’ve been doing.

Maybe there is a reason behind all of this drama. Each of the sophomores have their own justifications for it. But for me, there isn’t one. I don’t think there’s anything that makes it okay to kick freshmen out of the booths. We share the upper level. It’s not right to keep part of it for ourselves.

Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that it’s only us. No teachers, no upperclassmen, no expectations, no ongoing conversation about “community at Latin”. Now think about what we’ve been doing. The new freshman class moves into high school, nervous and confused and trying to figure things out. We were there last year. What if booths hadn’t been “sophomore territory”? What if we hadn’t gotten dirty looks for eating lunch where we wanted to? I know it didn’t work out that way for us, but we can do it for this year’s freshmen. So let them sit where they want to. We can be the ones that end the sophomore booth rule for good.


P.S. Freshmen, you rock.


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  • S

    smarguliOct 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Sophomores barely have any places to sit at lunch, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to keep two booths for ourselves.

    • A

      aprangerOct 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      I had a time when I was eating breakfast in the cafeteria with my English class, sitting with my group at a booth and some sophomores tried to kick us out when practically all of the rectangle tables and circular tables were open. I don’t think that’s perfectly reasonable.

  • A

    amiramonOct 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Great article Grace- really strong points in this! Thanks for writing about this topic.

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A Letter to the Sophomores