Hillsdale’s 102nd Home­coming wrapped up five days ago, but tension from the week’s com­pe­tition still lingers.

Events ranged from a banner contest, to trivia, to Mock Rock, and many teams dove into the fray and gave it their all. While friend­ships were forged and cama­raderie was strengthened, not every student had a pos­itive expe­rience. One par­ticular group was vil­ified and crit­i­cized: the Student Activ­ities Board.

When com­pe­tition became heated and stu­dents dis­agreed with contest results, many took to social media throughout the week to vent their frus­tra­tions.

“Did you hire blind judges?” one student com­mented on an SAB Instagram post.

“It scares me that the judges don’t know what the words ‘theme, cre­ativity, and quality’ mean. Pre­pared to be dis­ap­pointed at Mock Rock, everybody,” another said.

While it’s tempting to jump to con­clu­sions and assign blame when com­pet­itive ten­sions are high, we have to breathe, take a step back, and look at the sit­u­ation with fresh eyes. Yes, your banner, video, and Mock Rock dance are your babies (and worthy efforts, I might add), but investing more than 20 hours into each does not entitle your team to 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. While the artistic abil­ities show­cased this year were excep­tional, some banners and videos aligned with the theme more obvi­ously than others. If we can gather any­thing from the judges’ choices this year, sub­tlety is not the key to winning.

Several stu­dents took to social media to com­plain a par­ticular team had been “robbed.” Others argued judge bias was at play. As frus­tra­tions flared, stu­dents shifted the blame to SAB, who had selected the judges.

Asking ques­tions would have revealed there was more to the story. Securing judges for each event was dif­ficult due to busy schedules and the number of judges required. “We emailed at least 12 people before we filled the three Mock Rock judging spots,” an SAB student employee explained.

Assuming the judges, com­prised of faculty and staff, harbor bias is absurd and ill-founded.

SAB works hard to select their judges with care, but with 18 com­peting teams in the mix, not everyone is going to be happy. If we’re sore losers, we steal the fun out of Home­coming, and friendly com­pe­tition devolves into dis­cour­aging chaos.

If stu­dents believe there’s a problem that must be addressed, however, the most con­structive and effective approach is to directly engage with SAB to voice ques­tions or con­cerns. Using social media as an outlet to express dis­content about Home­coming results is unpro­ductive and dis­re­spectful.

Hillsdale teaches us to value and par­tic­ipate in thoughtful dis­course. Instead, we’ve fallen into the trap of hiding behind phones and com­puter screens like the rest of our gen­er­ation, venting our frus­tra­tions in the form of Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram com­ments. What does this achieve? SAB gen­uinely desires com­mu­ni­cation with Hillsdale’s stu­dents. After all, their stated mission is to “serve as a voice to the student com­munity of Hillsdale College.” But SAB cannot fulfill their mission if we don’t do our part and com­mu­nicate our­selves. Doing so will create a better expe­rience for everyone.

Last year, SAB hosted 28 Fall events and 20 in the Spring. With each occasion, SAB spent countless hours brain­storming, planning, setting up, and hosting. We can’t forget they are stu­dents just like us, with exams, papers, and extracur­ric­ulars to juggle. In addition, all eyes are on them as they organize campus-wide events. These SAB employees and student workers are our friends and our peers. They have shown them­selves to be servant-hearted and more than deserve our respect and grat­itude. If you see a SAB member around campus, I’d encourage you to thank them. They’ll feel encouraged, and so will you.

Regardless of whether we see #9peat next year, let’s not repeat neg­ative atti­tudes toward judges and SAB. If we focus on the purpose of it all — to enjoy old friend­ships and forge new ones — Home­coming 2019 will bring out the best of campus.

Ryan Kelly Murphy is a George Wash­ington Fellow and a senior studying pol­itics.