Think back to your freshman year here at Olivet. I am sure that for many different people, many different words come to mind when envisioning what it was like to experience this campus for the very first time.
For some students, their freshman year experiences are some they would like to forget. For others, being able to claim a side in the friendly Parrott-Williams and Chapman-Nesbitt rivalries instills a sense of hometown pride, and they gladly reminisce about their times spent in the dorms.
Whatever the case is for you, you would have to admit that your freshman year was a meaningful, impactful year in your life in a way totally different than what your sophomore, junior, and senior years were. There is simply something unique and, in my opinion, beautiful about what happens in the life of a freshman. I love freshmen, and so should you.
I should explain that I spent my first year at Olivet in Chapman Hall, but now I am preparing to spend my third consecutive year as a Resident Assistant (RA) in Nesbitt Hall; hence, for my four years at Olivet, I will have only lived in a freshman dorm, so it would make sense that I love freshmen.
One does not spend the entirety of one’s college years living among freshmen if one does not enjoy being with them. I, however, do not think that my love for freshmen should be out of the ordinary. After all, a senior voluntarily being the RA to freshmen seems outlandish to most people I know, but I do not think that it needs to be. I find the experience of one’s freshmen year so fascinating and exhilarating that I want to witness it firsthand yet again.
When I say that you should love freshmen as I love freshmen, I do not mean to imply that everyone ought to be a freshman RA; I only mean to say that if people truly understood and appreciated freshmen as I do, then my decision to be with them would not seem so outlandish. So, what is it that I love about freshmen so much? Well, whatever many different words came to mind when you thought back to your freshman year – that is what I love.
Obviously, no two seniors, juniors, or sophomores are alike, but any given two upperclassmen can at least share the characteristic of having spent time at Olivet; freshmen, on the other hand, cannot even claim that. A dorm full of first-time college students, thus, is truly among the most diverse and unpredictable conglomerations of human beings in our society, and I have the responsibility of meeting these conglomerations head-on and becoming one with them. I consider it a blessing. The transformation of these freshmen from inexperienced, moldable journeyers in August to tenured, confident conquerors in May is remarkable.
When freshmen arrive in August, most have no idea what to expect of Olivet or the college experience. I know that that was the case for me. Freshmen have no experiences with professors, classes, or homework yet; they have no opinion of cafeteria food yet; they do not know how well the football team performs; and they have yet to experience the countless opportunities that Olivet offers, such as Ollie’s Follies, class events, intramurals, Spoons 4 Forks, Revival, the Block Party, the Candy Costume Fest, the Big Chill, plays, musicals, concerts, Art Nights, and more. Moreover, since they have no experiences with any of this, they are open to all of it, and the most amazing quality of freshmen is their willingness to enjoy the newness of Olivet.
For me, getting to accompany them during their first experiences of this campus is almost as if I get to experience it for the first time myself every year, and I see something beautiful in that.
If you are reading this, then, and you have the chance to interact with freshmen, take a moment to appreciate the blessing you have been given. Not only can you see this campus through the innocent eyes of a first-time viewer, but you get to be a part of that first vision. You get to help mold the ideas and opinions of somebody who is perhaps forming his or her own ideas and opinions for the first time.
Again, I am not asserting that every student should strive to be RA’s for freshmen; rather; the best thing that we upperclassmen can do, then, is recall how formative our own freshman year experiences were and strive to reap the same benefits for those younger than we. Believe me, they will appreciate it, so do yourself a favor and go tell a freshman that you appreciate him or her today.
— Drew Leman, Staff Writer and Nathan DiCamillo, Photographer