The Collegian
Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Dos and Don'ts of Freshman Year

It's that time of year again. 'Tis the season for unfamiliar faces, restocked Dining Dollars and the sound of girls squealing ("Oh my God, girlfriend, shut up! You are so tan!").

And of course, the zest for another year of learning is so palpable you can taste it. You can taste it so much that you might even miss the first week of classes.

For us upperclassmen, the transition back to campus life comes pretty easily. That is, aside from that new tricky obstacle course of speed humps and awkward roundabouts through UFA that slows my morning ride to D-Hall so much that I refuse to stop for any pedestrians or small animals that have the unfortunate fate of stepping in front of my car. But, beyond that, we've figured out cinder-blocking our beds, identifying which classes to drop with just one swift glance at the syllabus and how to feign a look of interest when asking the 133rd person how their summer was.

But for all the freshmen, the transition to Richmond is probably coming about as easily as grammar does to George W. Bush. And for that reason, I've taken it upon myself as a wise and kind senior to chronicle a few dos and don'ts for your first year. (You should probably memorize this column, or cut it out and put it in your Trapper Keeper with your campus map, color-coded schedule, list of emergency contacts and the note your mom wrote to remind you to take your inhaler.)

DO anticipate a good deal of awkwardness and embarrassment that, unfortunately for some of you, may never go away. You may have started to feel comfortable by the end of Orientation, but don't get used to it. We're not in Play Fair anymore. Nobody can be perfect (except me) so if you're thinking of transferring or giving up on college entirely after dropping your tray in D-Hall, I would recommend you try to stick it out. (I'm not saying I won't laugh at you. But, I'll help you clean up your Lucky Charms and glazed munchkins. After clapping, of course.)

DO work. Even though Mommy isn't getting your report card anymore and attending parent-teacher conferences about your penmanship issues and eighth grade reading level, she might notice if you don't receive your diploma. Believe it or not, there is enough time to get your work done, moonlight as a bonified frat-star and still catch the occasional episode of The Bachelorette on Hulu.

DO make like the U.S. military's policy on gay service members when it comes to discussing Greek life. Don't ask, don't tell. Nobody cares if you have always dreamed of being an omega epsilahocus pocus. Nobody cares if you have always dreamed of being an Omega Epsilahocus Pocus.

DON'T take for granted the unique opportunity our small campus gives you to befriend and praise our Division I athletes like you should. It's not at every school that you can stand behind Darrius Garrett (center/forward, 1.7 bpg, led Richmond basketball in blocks in 2010 with 60) in the panini line while simultaneously reading his tweet that he's standing in the panini line.

DON'T confuse your Jepsons, Weinsteins and Robins. It just so happens that multiple buildings bear these three names. Hint: The Wellness Center probably isn't the right "Weinstein" for your 9 a.m. Core class.

DO take your own advice. Remember that time you told your dad that he needed to retire his fanny pack even if he liked it because his Chapstick was so conveniently located? Good. Now, I want you to remove that thing around your neck or wrist that has your SpiderCard on it. Yes, you. You know what I'm talking about. Even though Mom just took you to the bookstore and bought you a really cool Richmond Spiders lanyard that conveniently bears your freshly minted SpiderCard, you might as well stamp freshman in red ink across your forehead.

DON'T even think about rolling under five mph within 12 inches of a curb where parking is prohibited if you have a car on campus. Think you're just going to run into D-Hall for fro-yo to-gosie and there's no way you'll get a ticket in such a short span of time? Before you can say chicken fried rice a fat $30 parking ticket will be staring you in the face.

Think you're gonna appeal that ticket and tell them you had to go to Gottwald to meet with a professor and you sprained your ankle so you had to drive? Think again, buster. You'll receive an e-mail back from Parking Services that kindly declines your appeal because there is a record of you swiping into D-Hall at the same time you were allegedly meeting with said professor and then a record of you proceeding to go to the gym with said sprained ankle. Richmond parking services are more impenetrable than Fidel Castro's security force.

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DON'T use the third treadmill from the right, facing the TVs, first row, on the first floor at the gym. That's just a personal preference, really. I don't like sharing.

DON'T think it's "cute" to admit to Facebook stalking. Even if you know the name of every one of his albums, or if you check her wall-to-walls more frequently than you change your underwear or if you noticed you're mutual friends with a girl you went to Jewish camp with -- you get the point, just don't.

DO locate the nearest thrift and consignment shops for all your finest lodge haberdashery.

DO respect and appreciate university staff. They sleep on cots on campus during snowstorms so your fat ass can get your beef stir-fry, they bless you with make-your-own cupcake day and they clean your hall bathroom even if you got a little on the seat. Say thank you. And if you're nice, maybe Judy will shine your apple at the Pier before putting it into your lunch bag, too.

DO celebrate any occasion (Happy Tuesday!) with a Ukrop's cake. Trust me on this one.

DO be aware that every time someone refers to Ukrop's (i.e. "celebrate any occasion with a Ukrop's cake") they are actually referring to Martin's. (It was a tough break-up. We're still not over it.)

DO befriend all your hall-mates. Especially that hall-mate that orders Chanello's at 2 a.m. every night.

DON'T try to make your high school relationship work. Why? The sooner you learn this the better: Hugh Grant was wrong. Love, actually, isn't real. (And neither are leprechauns, for that matter. And when Mr. Meow Meow disappeared when you were in 3rd grade, he didn't go to the kitty farm with all the other kitties to play with catnip and yarn.) And one of you has probably already cheated on one another. I know what you did on Vegas Night.

And that is all you need to know to survive the hard streets of Richmond (the university, that is, not the city of Richmond -- you might need some pepper spray or perhaps a Swiss Army knife for those streets). You're welcome.

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