Letter to the Editor

Elizabeth Hoffman

I was so distracted by the empty seats at Tuesday’s convocation featuring writer and environmentalist Rebecca Solnit that I barely heard the Provost’s introduction. Fewer than 70 students – that’s five percent of Lawrence’s campus – and barely a higher percentage of faculty and staff were in attendance. In fact, I would say that Appleton’s retired community had a far better showing than did the university.
Lawrence’s administration is partly to blame for the scant attendance. I understand and appreciate that they don’t want to flood our inboxes, but I think an event of this importance merits an email reminder.
The blame really falls on individuals, however. I can’t claim that I have been to every convocation or have never been frustrated by the closures during convo hour, but I wish I could. I am a senior now, and I regret not having gone to more convocations, forums, talks, concerts, recitals, plays and gallery openings. We will never have such easy access to free, high quality cultural experiences as we have now at Lawrence.
I don’t think I need to convince anyone that Lawrence has world class musicians, artists, writers and scholars. So why aren’t these events full to capacity? As if the university didn’t have enough talent of its own, it brings in professional artists and speakers and allows students, faculty and staff to see them free or almost free of charge.
I realize that not all of the convocations or speakers or concerts are supremely interesting – but some are! How will you know if you don’t go? – but I guarantee that if you go and listen carefully you will learn something.
And isn’t that why we are all here? We are all busy, but the truth is that we make time to watch “America’s Next Top Model” or hold Mario Kart sessions, so we should make time for a convocation. I’m not saying that we should eliminate important relaxation time. What I am saying is that we should take advantage of all that being on the Lawrence campus offers us. I certainly believe that students give up their right to complain about the cost of tuition when they don’t participate in as many of the opportunities it provides as possible.
I know it is easier to stay in my room with my computer or even do homework. But I also know that I will regret it next year after I leave Lawrence if I look back and see a lot of opportunities that I never took advantage of. I don’t know what the Lawrence Difference is, but that can’t be it.
-Elizabeth Hoffman