Ask a fifth-year

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
I keep getting weird looks from upperclassmen at lunch. What’s the deal? I always thought college was where you could be free to be who you want, without anybody passing judgment.
– Confused at the Commissary

Dear Confused,
Well, Confused, you haven’t left me much to go on here. Are these “funny” looks those of attraction or derision, and what – if anything – are you doing to garner these looks? I hate to sound so accusatory, but I’ve seen enough freshmen making fools of themselves in the dining hall to know that it’s a pretty big – and irritating – problem.
I saw a group of freshmen this week throwing and catching apples with forks. If exactly what that entails is hard for you to imagine, it’s only because of the stupidity of the activity. I’d like to say that I was shocked and appalled – mostly because being shocked and appalled is really popular on campus right now – but I really wasn’t. I’ve seen freshmen doing stupid, marginally disrespectful things to impress their guffawing friends for as long as I’ve been here, and I have no reason to think it will ever stop.
I know that sounds pretty negative, Confused, but it’s totally within your rights as a freshman – indeed, it’s expected of you – to be completely obnoxious at all times. It’s the way you explore your newfound freedoms, and will help you form bonds with people who you’ll spend the rest of your college careers with. You need to do it to get the most out of your college experience, but that doesn’t make the fact that it’s super annoying go away.
If upperclassmen can understand why you’re annoying, you can make the effort to understand why they’re annoyed. This is their home, a place they’ve grown to love over the past several years, and freshmen are treating it like it’s a summer camp. I’m sure I would have thought a fork-riddled apple was the coolest thing four years ago, but now it just strikes me as dumb.
The good news is, the novelty of college usually wears off by the beginning of winter term. You and your friends will naturally start acting like civilized human beings, and the weird looks will in turn go away. If not, then you’re probably getting “funny” looks for the same reason the rest of us are: looking, acting, or smelling funny.
Dear Drew,
My roommate is sick. How do I stay healthy with all of these bugs going around?
– Susceptible in Sage

Dear Susceptible,
Common sense is key, Susceptible. Obviously, you should refrain from using your roommate’s toothbrush for the next week or so, and we’ve all seen the videos and posters reminding us to wash our hands and practice social distance. It will be difficult to keep a safe distance in your tiny little dorm room, so I would recommend spending as little time there as possible. Your roommate needs to use the space to recuperate, and it’s really not that inconvenient to do your studying at the library for the next few days.
Those are the easier forms of prevention, but staying healthy starts long before flu season hits. College students are some of the worst at both eating well and getting enough sleep, which is why we get so sick in the first place. I’m sure you already know to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, so I’ll just remind you that it’s apple season – you know, assuming you can get your hands on an unforked one.
Sleep is really the big culprit. We spend so many late nights buried under homework that we jump at the chance to stay up late having fun, but it’s an unsustainable cycle. There’s the old twist on the adage that “early to rise and early to bed makes men healthy but socially dead,” but that forgets that sick people don’t make the best partiers, either. Personally, I’d rather miss a killer party for health than illness.
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