Courtesy of Drue Sokol

Just like students entering their freshman year, those progressing through their  senior year notice that it is a time chock full of experiences, memories and, of course, transitions. The first and last years of any college career are marked by these changes in lifestyle — for example, while freshmen replace their wardrobes with elastic-band casual wear to accommodate the expected and dreaded “freshman 15,” seniors replace their wardrobes to accommodate the equally expected and doubly-dreaded need for an assortment of business-ready clothing that marks their first steps into adulthood. Most will be fairly independent by this point and some rarer types will be entirely independent of parental support. But it is in these months before graduation that I have witnessed an interesting phenomenon occurring among my future-ready peers — the notably gutsy and public voicing of their true opinions to school officials, peers and faculty alike.

At its heart, perhaps the greatest reason for this senior tendency to develop a cantankerous outlook is simply because seniors applying to graduate schools and jobs require so many different forms, recommendations and other means outside their control by which they must graduate. More terrifying than the prospect of walking at graduation, perhaps, is the thought that — through some oversight, intentional sabotage or downright mistake — one might not walk at commencement. Waking in a cold sweat at night has become a bi-weekly ritual for me since January, the only cure of which is to steadily go through and list all the necessary steps, forms, procedures and so forth of what will get me in that cap and gown and out the undergraduate door forever.

So too do I see this trend reflected in my peers, particularly those who have not fully realized their post-graduate plans yet. Those who may have initially been willing to speak about their criticisms to University faculty, even in a constructive fashion, dare not speak their black words until the prospect of needing UR’s assistance is well over. Then, of course, the reservoir of criticism never seems to run dry. The post-graduate plan security spreads through the mind with one all-powerful message: If one no longer needs anything from UR, one need not pull any punches in expressing opinions of it.

This is not to say, however, that there is a mass conspiracy concerning the UR administration for students not to graduate, or, in any case, that the University makes deliberate mistakes that can affect a student’s ability to graduate on time. Rather, my line of reasoning is that the post-graduate mania inspires so many fascinating commonalities in its senior class that members are able to unanimously commiserate around these points. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I can’t complain about (such and such a thing) until I graduate!” … well, I couldn’t retire in the Florida Keys with the money, but I would definitely need a Coinstar.

The reasoning isn’t entirely logical — moreover, the overall mindset is entirely paranoid — but it is the essential security blanket to tunnel-visioned seniors that strive ever closer to graduation. Despite the fact that administration surveys provide anonymous outlets for constructive criticisms or concerns, those whose futures are contingent on the resources provided by an administration beyond their control may not wish to throw the dice and complain. Rather, they hold their hands until the security reaches them, and unleash all the cards at once. It is not a logical system by any means, but hey, neither is “senioritis.”

Cicoria is a member of the class of 2012.

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