Campus lectures are missed opportunities

Too often, college is viewed more as a trade school and less as an opportunity to gain knowledge and immerse oneself in a rich academic environment. Students just want to get out of here with their degrees in accounting, nursing or engineering and get on with their lives.

Few students make any effort to expand their minds (legally) outside of the classrooms. This is certainly understandable. With the amount of work students have, it’s reasonable that Villanovans would not want to spend their down time seated in an audience for a lecture.

However, students are missing out on some of the best opportunities they will have in college. With the Literary Festival and the appearance by “Kite Runner” author Khaled Hosseini comes another opportunity for students to learn outside of the structured classrooms.

Most departments on campus host their own colloquia, with speakers geared toward students and professors in their specific fields. Usually, this is a chance to hear excerpts from their upcoming books or their latest research-cutting-edge stuff that students should be excited to hear. These lectures can be particularly good opportunities for students to expose themselves to ideas outside their areas of study without having to commit a full semester to a class in that discipline.

This campus attracts a host of notable speakers and interesting seminars that students should take advantage of. When else in your life will you get the chance to hear Michael Berg or Archbishop Tutu speak, or any number of esteemed academics who regularly visit the University?

Some professors either require students to attend these lectures, or offer extra credit opportunities for students who do attend. These all help to get people to attend these events, but it’s a shame that in an academic environment, students should have to be dragged kicking and screaming into any sort of extra effort.

Sure, students here are busy. Everyone, it seems, is in a club, a sorority or some other campus organization. These are all fine endeavors. But what’s one night out of a week? It should not only be okay to miss a meeting; it should be encouraged if it means, for instance, going to hear two members of the Philadelphia School Board Commission, who are currently making history with their mandate for all high schools students to take an Africana studies course (Sandra Dungee Glenn and Dana King came to Villanova as part of the MLK Jr. celebration).

Let’s face it. It costs $40,000 a year to go here. Should students really look to limit the amount they learn? Or should they try to squeeze every drop of intellectual stimulation they can out of this University?