Picture this; a large number of students intensely focused on a speaker, as he lectures them on events, attitudes and ideas that are currently affecting the nation of America as we see it. Each student is there of his own accord, some paying as much as seventy-five dollars to sit closer to the renowned lecturer. The auditorium, with its 1,500 seats, is filled to capacity, and this is on a Friday night, when nearly everyone could have been doing something else. No one is twirling their hair in boredom, no one is sending instant messages on their cell phone and no one is thinking of how intoxicated they are going to get following the talk of the speaker. This is education at its supposed best. Noam Chomsky, world-wide renowned political activist and government critic, has the audience at his complete control and they respect and listen to his every word, as he lectures on the ensuing war against Iraq, on Friday night, October 18th, at the University of Houston, as part of the University of Houston Lecture Series.
Now picture this; Debbie Fields stands on the stage, lecturing about the supposed importance of cookies and making them in our society. Students are sleeping, students are reading the latest issue of Cosmopolitan and students are thinking about the free cookies that they are going to get after the show. They have paid nothing to hear her speak of her cookie empire, and most of them do not care. This is the Sam Houston Lecture Series; Debbie Fields, from Mrs. Fields Cookies. Marketing students, towards who the lecture was directed, were only present in single-digit numbers. Other non-marketing students were enticed to attend this lecture and other activities by professors offering them extra credit if they go. The Orange Keys, a important academic oriented organization on Campus, is responsible for collecting slips of paper on which questions about the presentation are answered. The questions are then turned into each student’s respective professor as a sort of proof that they have attended. This is ironic, because the Orange Keys stands as academic and intellectual representatives of our university, yet they are actually involved in this nonsense. They are actually applauding this effort by participating in it. It is helping students to receive better grades by taking shortcuts and opposes the academic integrity and discipline that it takes to be a member of the Orange Keys. This was not just at the Debbie Fields lecture, this also took place at the poetry reading that took place at the Smith-Hudson auditorium at 7:00 last Wednesday. Teachers are forced to hold extra credit in front of student’s noses, like a farmer holds a carrot in front of the nose of a mule, in order for them to receive any kind of culture at this university. Is this the way that it should be? It was appalling for me to watch as the poet acted out his poems, while the students blandly looked on, only concerned when the poet answered one of the questions that was on the extra credit sheet. It was a disgrace, and it is of no wonder to me that this university and the students places academics lower on their list than most universities. It is of no wonder to me that SHSU is only a second-rate school, when compared to a university like the University of Houston. A school like Sam Houston will never be a first rate university if students do not attend and become academically involved in the university. They should not have to be enticed by extra credit opportunities by teachers who are trying to help them see the world around them. These programs and lecturers offered by the university are there for student enhancement. Students should go on their own terms and take what they want from it and not because of a mere five points. Students should realize that college is about learning. It is about learning others opinions and views on subjects integral to them. Through this learning students find out who they truly are through what they see and interact with during those college years.