Article by Melissa Dy

Photo by Ji Young Kim

With first season IASAS considerations ongoing and HS Play casting recently announced, some have a reason to be overjoyed while others to be dismayed and even question the influence of “upperclassman privilege.” To many underclassmen, it may seem like the factor of grade level and age largely influences the gaining of positions on sports teams, leadership in councils, and roles in the HS play. Conversely, some upperclassmen argue that too little regard is being given to their positions and rights as upperclassmen. So which side is right? Is the “upperclassman privilege” fact or myth?

Sophomore Ayaka Sugiyama, who already has two seasons of IASAS under her belt, feels that coaches are right when favoring upperclassmen for captaincy or positions on the team because upperclassmen tend to be more experienced in leading the team. However, Ayaka does not think that underclassmen are significantly disadvantaged either because ultimately selection boils down to a combination of talent, attitude, commitment and experience. And such packages come in all shapes and sizes.

 Having been in five ISM productions, Tori Worley feels similarly about casting for the play. Although upperclassmen have a majority of the roles, Tori feels that casting directors based their decisions more on who would best fit the role rather than who was older.

 Gitika Bose, treasurer of the Cooking Club, believes that the privilege does exist with regards to leadership, but it is only because “upperclassmen are usually the most responsible with many years of experience in that specific club” and it is their experience that gives them their entitlement to authority. Nonetheless, Gitika believes that this consideration is disadvantageous because underclassman could benefit from having more leadership positions open to them so as to build their confidence early on.

Senior Mari Guzman has had leadership positions since her underclassman years. However, she believes that the tendency for leadership positions to get filled up by upperclassmen is not a result of unequal opportunities, as ISM gives all students equal freedom to lead and become active members of the community. Rather, this tendency can be attributed to how confidence and the desire to actively participate usually only grow with age. However, Mari thinks that there are many underclassmen at this stage who could be equally capable leaders. It is simply a matter of the “development of confidence within a student”.

So while upperclassmen do get more positions in student councils, roles in plays, and spots on IASAS teams, these testimonies demonstrate that underlying reasons go beyond merely age and superficial privileges. It is the years upperclassmen have spent gaining experience and proving dedication within their respective fields–in addition to having talent and skill–that give them their edge and ability to outperform equally-talented underclassmen. Experience builds confidence, and confidence builds leaders.

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