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Good things about Grinnell that frustrate me: Too many events

One of the many things I appreciate about working at Grinnell is that we provide a wide variety of artistic and intellectual events on campus: musical groups, art exhibits, guest speakers, and more. Nonetheless, I really wish that we’d be a bit more thoughtful and strategic about what events we offer and when. This coming Thursday [1] is one such case.

What’s happening this Thursday? Here’s a starting point.

A wide variety of groups on campus [2] are sponsoring an all campus multimedia lecture at 7:30 p.m. by Jackson Katz, entitled Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Politics of Presidential Masculinity. I heard one of the organizers say something like Harris Cinema has 400 seats. I hope to see them all filled.

But that’s going to be difficult because we have way too many competing events. What else is happening? Writers@Grinnell is sponsoring a visit by James McBride, author of the landmark memoir, The Color of Water. McBride is giving a roundtable at 4:15 p.m. and is performing at 8:00 p.m. with the Good Lord Bird Band. Like the Katz talk, the McBride visit is also sponsored by a variety of groups [3].

But that’s not all. Prairie Studies, Environmental Studies, and SGA are sponsoring a screening of Between Earth and Sky: Climate Change on the Last Frontier at 5:00 p.m. and then a talk by the director at 6:30 p.m. [4].

You think three major events would be enough. But no, there are two more. The Department of Theatre and Dance is sponsoring a student production of Godspell at 7:30 p.m. at the Arts Center downtown [8] and the Music Department is hosting a faculty recital entitled A Bouquet of Riches!, also at 7:30 p.m.

All these events sound exciting. I’d like to be able to attend most of them. Perhaps it’s good that they all conflict with each other; I don’t have time to attend all these events and the conflict means that I won’t try [9]. But it’s absolutely insane that they are scheduled together.

You know what makes it worse? Some campus organizations are funding more than one of these events. The Music Department is hosting their faculty performance and sponsoring the McBride performance. American Studies is sponsoring both McBride and Katz. SGA is funding Katz and the film. Intercultural Affairs is funding Katz and McBride. You think someone would have noticed a conflict and said Hmmm … We’re scheduling two conflicting events. That’s a bad idea! Let’s do something else. But no.

Okay, Sam. Take a deep breath. You know that smart people run these programs. Don’t get upset. Take another deep breath. Now another. Think the best of people. There’s a good reason for each event, and it’s fine that they occur simultaneously.

In any case, this confluence of events is another reason that we should reinstate weekly Scholars Convocation. The faculty performance could be in the convo slot. The McBride talk could be in the convo slot. The Katz talk could be in the convo slot. The director’s talk could be in the convo slot. For the McBride and director talks, we could have the associated events (performance, showing) the prior or same evening. Since they’d be in different convo slots, we wouldn’t have the evening conflicts.

Of course, if any of them were in Thursday’s convocation slot, they would conflict with the faculty conversation on shared governance and the Spark Tank presentations, also scheduled in convo slot [11]. It’s an absolute cornucopia [12] of things to do!

[1] The 13th, which may be one of the reasons we’re having problems.

[2] I don’t have the sign in front of me, but I know that it includes the Departments of Sociology and Political Science, the Wilson Program, the Student Government Association, our Title IX office, and about a half-dozen other groups that I’ve forgotten.

[3] I have the flyer at hand. The sponsors are: Writers@Grinnell, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Music Department, the Center for Humanities, American Studies, Intercultural Affairs, and Artists@Grinnell.

[4] The movie is at the Strand Theatre [5,6]. The talk is in JRC 101. The two venues are about seven blocks apart. Nonetheless, we are providing transportation [7]. That seems a bit contradictory to the message of the movie.

[5] The time before last that the College tried to show a movie at the Strand, the manager forgot to show up.

[6] The brochure says Strand Theater, but the name is Strand Theatre.

[7] I hope the transportation is for those who have mobility issues.

[8] At least there are three other performances.

[9] Let’s see … CS Extra at 4pm. Run over to the Strand for the 5:00 showing. Run back to campus for the Katz talk at 7:00. Leave early to make the McBride performance at 8:00. See Godspell another day [10].
Cross my fingers that I’ll have another chance to see the faculty perform.

[10] Assuming tickets are still available.

[11] That’s okay. If we scheduled these events in the convo slot, neither the shared governance conversation nor Spark Tank would have been scheduled in the same slot.

[12] Anything beginning with corn is almost certainly appropriate for Iowa.

Version 1.0 of 2017-04-11.