I am disappointed. In an institution that has been widely regarded for its open-mindedness, particularly that of its students, the convocation given by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, commonly known as SARK, on March 4, 2004 seemed to prove otherwise. I was horrified to see one student after the other exit before she had finished her lecture. Perhaps I can appreciate SARK’s topic on “How To Make Your Creative Dreams REAL” because I consider myself an artist, or perhaps it is because I am interested in listening to someone speak on a topic that is not necessarily academic and fact-laden. I am certainly not going to say that I do not appreciate more analytical lectures, or to diminish the presentations of past convocation speakers, but I am infuriated to be the witness of such close-minded behavior.
This disgusting exhibition of academic arrogance further led me to believe that such students are not interested in hearing other points of view or advice by anyone but acclaimed academic scholars. I felt that of all the convocation speakers that I have heard at Lawrence over my past three years, SARK touched on a topic, or a way of life, that the Lawrence community often neglects, which is finding intrinsic value in those aspects of our life that are not controlled by academia: our friends, family, and personal wants and desires. She also gave helpful advice as to how we ought to embrace certain “undesirable traits” such as procrastination or perfectionism. Not only do I feel that the Lawrence community should embrace these values, I think that we need people such as SARK to remind us of how important it is to celebrate those aspects and values everyday.
Unfortunately her message was received with the utmost cynicism. I am not trying to discourage such students from stating their opinions or placing comments about a particular idea. After all, the beauty of a liberal arts education is the freedom in being able to evaluate such theories with strict scrutiny; however, the privilege of fierce analysis should not be a license to act rudely. Such behavior, I believe, is an indication, more than anything, of one’s stubborn refusal to consider or internalize the message that SARK was trying to communicate: slow down, have fun, and enjoy the serendipity that occurs in our everyday lives. I am not trying to say that everyone should love every convocation given in the chapel, but I do think that convocation speakers of all genres deserve the highest level of respect that we as students can offer.