“Have a seat!” But where?

The very important social traditions of Tully Hall


For underclassmen and women, this in person, full Wolfpack schedule year is a brand new experience. This is their first year in high school and  the first time sophomores get a “normal Ignatius” high school experience. It seems that Covid-19 has changed the relationship between students in all grades at St. Ignatius. 

In normal years, freshmen would have learned about the norms of social engagement by watching sophomores navigate the school. But sophomores are equally unaware of these social norms since they spent their freshman year separated from any juniors and seniors.

While trying to navigate the now crowded  halls and facing the need to wake up earlier every single day, it is likely that sophomores feel like freshmen again. “Sophomores felt like seniors last year,” said one junior.

“Juniors think they’re entitled. How do little things like wearing your lanyard on the bus make you a freshman?” says sophomore Gianna Gaytán. 

Another example of this would be in the dining hall where freshmen and sophomores seem to be sitting in the junior/senior section. Upperclassmen and women complain but don’t actually tell the underclassmen. Frosh and sophomores are most likely unaware of this norm since sophomores had assigned lunch seats last year separate from the upperclassmen. Since the sophomores are unaware of the social tradition in the dining hall, the frosh are unaware as well.

The only class to have experienced a normal school year is the senior class. The organization of grade levels during the past 2 years have left many of these upperclassmen feeling that the social norms have broken down.

Ronan Barron ‘23 said, “I feel like there should be a sense of camaraderie among all students that just isn’t there, or isn’t there as much as it should be…typically, I also feel like the seniors are like the leaders and sort of show everyone how things work, but the sophomores and juniors didn’t really get to experience that at all.” 

Without senior leadership, many outside of the graduating class are unaware of or unfamiliar with the traditions that some of the class of 2022 consider sacred. 

“I don’t really notice that there is much of a social hierarchy,” said Barron, “because none of us have really had a normal school year together.”

This lack of experience has been particularly evident for the seniors. Traditionally, seniors have unofficially designated library seats, the far section in Tully, as well as other perks of being in their final year at Ignatius. They also have come to take for granted such things as people using only the right-hand door, using the stairs in their designated direction, and avoiding clustering in hallways or landings during passing periods. 

Many in the senior class have reacted with annoyance to senior privileges being carelessly disregarded. One can only speculate as to what comes next.

Seniors depart for college at the end of this year, and the school traditions  will leave with them. The class of 2022 is the only class to have experienced the full range of senior traditions with the class of 2019. 

Senior Class President Ted Schmiedeler ‘22, with two younger siblings at Ignatius, feels that “a lot of the differences in the social hierarchy this year come from a genuine lack of knowledge of these unwritten rules. I think a lot of these unwritten social rules will disappear next year or the year after as the grades who knew Ignatius before the pandemic move out of the building and onto college, leaving the underclassmen to decide the direction they want to take the social dynamics of the school in the years to come.” 

The freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are now faced with a choice: an attempt to reinstate the unfamiliar social hierarchy their forerunners held, or abandon decades of tradition for a new balance of power between grade levels.

This choice is a stark reminder that Covid has changed the SICP community. Students are the ones who will truly define school culture.