Entitled, inconsiderate freshmen: What can be done?

Illustration by Killian Goodale-Porter.

Stef Anderson, Contributing Writer

As a first-year at VCU, I have noticed that freshman culture, although bustling with new possibilities and beginnings, has an unfavorable side to it. 

Freshmen’s lack of consideration for others turns dorm life into a nightmare free-for-all that many, including myself, are subjected to. 

I want you to think for a minute: Before arriving on campus, did you think of maybe learning to cook, clean, respect the environment around you or even how to do your laundry? If those things seem inconspicuous, maybe you are part of the problem.

Cooking, cleaning and general upkeep are a part of being an adult — your parents will not do it for you. These are given facts of life, so why do freshmen, in particular, seem to have such an issue with doing the bare minimum? 

It reflects another core issue: Entitlement. When people don’t feel a need to do something, they usually ignore it altogether. 

As everyone has been made blatantly aware, the dorms are nasty, the fire alarm keeps going off at night and the laundry rooms are a disaster site. I am surprised VCU even allows this behavior to continue as if they think freshmen will take action. Yet freshman culture, at its core, is selfish and inconsiderate.

In my own experience, communal kitchens are chaotic in GRC. Every time I head down to cook a meal, people leave cookware, trash, water all over the counter, food on the stove coils, chairs in the middle of the pathway and don’t clean the messes they leave behind. I’ve witnessed people leaving their messes behind for others to take care of after leaving the kitchen.

Whenever I start to prepare a meal, I wipe down the counter and pick up so much gunk.

For the amount students and parents are paying, it’s really not worth it to live in a dorm if everyone is going to remain complacent and quiet about these issues. We have to call out people, even though confrontation can be scary.

So, what can we do? First, start working on yourself. Even if you cannot change other people, you can be a bigger person. The first step should be to realize you are living with other people and that you need to act your age. The majority of us are 18, we should start acting like it. 

As an adult, you need to put away childish behaviors like leaving messes wherever you go, being blatantly naive and ignoring your responsibilities. If we can get over the bad behaviors we bring from home, we could possibly make progress and have fewer inconveniences within the dorm.

Cleaning up after yourself and being courteous is a simple solution to most problems on this list. For example, throwing away trash where it needs to go or keeping quiet late at night — no blaring music or screaming in the hallway. Simple actions, even small, can start chain reactions of change, and again, make the environment better.

If any of this does not strike a strong chord with you, consider that we will be here for the next four months. Are you going to enjoy trash everywhere, that strange substance in the bathroom shower, a lovely clogged toilet, clothes piles in the laundry room, delightful two a.m. fire alarms, loud neighbors, strange-smelling hallways and more? 

If you do not want that, we have to start moving. We cannot allow people to get away with being so inconsiderate, nor can we allow entitlement to reign in the dorm. Think of it as, if you see something, say something. Sometimes, we need a bit of pressure to get our act together. If everyone is working to make the dorm better, people may have a change of mind. 

Do not become the stereotype in freshman culture. We can be better than that! 

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