Lack of student paticipation in academic life embarrassing


As an avid attendee of on-campus lectures, I have always been astounded by the chronic lack of turnout for academic-related Laurier events.
Over my last five years at Laurier, what I perceive as being a dramatic increase in student population has not subsequently meant any increase whatsoever in the attendance of academic on-campus events.

During my previous four years at Laurier, I covered academic lectures on Islam and the crisis in the Gaza strip for The Cord.

Neither are areas of my expertise, or even interest, but attending these lectures forced me to step outside the learning boundaries I had established.

The attendees of academic-focused on-campus events has turned into a small group of individuals who feel the need to immerse themselves in dialogue and get exactly what they put into their university experience.
The majority of the student population somehow seems to think guest speakers and events are a burden — just one more way to exercise their minds — and that’s relegated to a time-wasting category.

But in attendance at those lectures were professors who saw my commitment to learning outside of the classroom — something for which I was consistently rewarded.

I learned valuable lessons about networking in a realm I had never entered: the academy.

Each empty seat at a lecture is a missed opportunity by a Laurier student.
Time after time I sit amongst a sea of vacant seats at events like this past week’s reading by Lawrence Hill in the concourse or the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Stephen Lewis Foundation event in the Senate and Board Chambers. Cinema Politica, held in 1E1 last week, barely filled the first few rows.

I’m constantly embarrassed to stare at empty rows of chairs in front of prize-winning authors and lecturers. It’s humiliating to watch hordes of students talk loudly as they pass by events in the concourse.

Next time, stop and see what events some people in the Laurier community are interested in.

Why does one pursue post-secondary studies if not to engage in a community that encourages thought-provocation, trying to get more value for the truckloads of money we all dump into this institution.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I was fortunate enough to have Romeo Dallaire and Stephen Lewis come to Laurier during my first and second years on campus.
These two groundbreaking Canadians fed my love for campus events and showed me that Laurier had great academic experiences to offer me outside the classroom.

Sure, Laurier doesn’t always garner the attention of world leaders like other institutions and I can’t promise that every event you attend will leave you with a feeling of euphoria.

However, spending two hours on a Monday night to hear first-hand accounts of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa or to discuss Chinese politics with professors outside of their office hours is time well invested.
Think of it as just that — an investment. Whether you like it or not people recognize you. I see the same faces at the events I attend on campus and in the community.

Those who are ready to engage and put the time and effort into reflecting and learning as part of the academy will be that much further ahead of their peers in the classroom.

The majority of the Laurier population has become lazy and full of individuals who seem to believe that doing the bare minimum and getting a piece of paper at the end of four years means they have engaged in some sort of higher learning.

Immersing oneself in the culture and community of the academy is done in a range of ways.

Next time you see a poster for a speaker on campus, make the conscious decision to refuse to waste your time at university solely on the 15 hours of class or so that you are enrolled in.

Step out of your intellectual box, network, exercise your mind amongst academics and take charge of your own learning.

Or whatever — sit at home and watch Jersey Shore instead. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.