I am a member of the rather large sector of the Concordia College community that believes Symposium, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Celebration of Student Scholarship are the best days of the academic year. While this may sound noble and intellectual —“Wow, look at Emma appreciating people’s hard work and effort”— it is quite the opposite. These are not my favorite days because I love the learning opportunities or because I love seeing my peers’ efforts become something tangible for the entire student body to enjoy. These are my favorite days because I can stay in bed for the entirety of them, watching Netflix or wasting away in some other form, and stream whatever event I was supposed to attend in person on my computer instead. For some reason, I consider these days to be better than any break. Maybe it’s because they are counted as “butt-in-seat” hours, meaning I get points for attendance as I become indistinguishable from my bed. Maybe it’s because they happen in the middle of the week, so it feels more like a novelty than any other break. Whatever the reason, my love of these three days is not quite honorable, and I share this love with countless other students.
Whose fault is this? Is it the students who are too immature to truly value the work of their peers? Or is it the committees who plan these days to be something that most students struggle to find interest in? It’s probably a combination of both.
In regard to Symposium and MLK, Jr. Day, we are a small school with limited resources when compared to larger universities. This makes it quite a bit more difficult to bring in individuals who may spark more of an interest in students. In regard to Celebration of Student Scholarship, there really isn’t more the school can do. They already provide beverages and snacks, and there isn’t a whole lot else students want out of an event.
To the students who do not appreciate these events to the extent at which they deserve: believe me, I understand. Why would you want to get out of bed to watch a speaker, when you could simply watch the online archive later? Why would you wander around the library looking at poster boards when you could, well, not? If the prospect of learning something new is not enough for you, consider this: all of the people involved in Symposium, MLK, Jr. Day and Celebration of Student Scholarship are donating their most finite and valuable resource to the betterment of our school. This resource is their time. Before you write off Symposium or MLK, Jr. Day for being based on a book you didn’t like or because the events are too early, think about the students, faculty and guests who worked incredibly hard to put together a day that is solely dedicated to BREWing — something not many colleges care to do. And, before you opt to “celebrate” student scholarship in your own way the night before the event, think about how much work your peers put into the projects they are hoping to share with you. Think about how you were too lazy to do what they are doing, meaning you should at least be able to watch them do it.
To the students and faculty who organize these three days of the year, I am really not sure what to tell you. Sadly, I am not the almighty voice of reason that will reign down and tell you exactly how to draw students in. All I know is that nothing should have to change, but clearly, something needs to change. It doesn’t matter if a professor mandates that students attend “X” number of sessions — they don’t do it. Obviously, this doesn’t speak to all students. Some of them go to the events, learn something and are better for it. But, many do not. Maybe those who choose to grow from the experience should do so, and those who are too lazy to get out of bed will simply lose an opportunity. But, maybe there is something you can do to coerce students to come in larger numbers. You shouldn’t have to, but unless I am only seeing a very limited demographic of Concordia students who avoid attendance, you need to.
Emma Garton (’19) is a senior studying Communications and Spanish. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian this year. In addition to working for the paper, Emma works in Concordia’s IT department, interns at Absolute Marketing Group in Fargo, ND, and plays trumpet in the Concordia Band.