Busy schedules lead to conflict
Attending on-campus events are an important part of a student’s college experience, both academically and socially. University of San Diego students have no shortage of opportunities to attend events on campus. They are typically free of charge for students, staff, and faculty, making it an accessible resource. However, the events are known to have a low attendance rate among students.
Senior Kirra Bixby stated that she enjoys attending events in which she is interested.
“I typically have a busy schedule, so I can only make time for the events that I think might be beneficial towards my future,” Bixby said. “These are typically career fairs and meetings for clubs that I belong to.”
Like Bixby, other students share a similar outlook. Campus events often fluctuate in attendance, depending on the topic or speaker.
“To be honest, free food or extra credit is probably the main reason students attend events,” Bixby said. “I think that if the university wants to increase student attendance, better promotion of the events could be beneficial. Most of the time I am unaware of the events happening on campus and I would go if I knew about them ahead of the time.”
However, Bixby believes that there can be something done to increase students overall attendance of events hosted on campus.
“I think these events could be integrated into classes by offering extra credit,” Bixby said. “Or, if an event is specifically beneficial for a class, cancel the class for the day and use the student’s participation at the event as their attendance grade.”
While Bixby would like to to be able to attend, she often can’t find the time due to overlapping schedules.
“It should be acknowledged that it is hard for students to attend these events due to conflicting class schedules or other prior commitments,” Bixby said. “Dead hours gives us the available time to attend these events, but I usually try to plan group projects or study groups during this time.”
On the other hand, some professors do their best to encourage students to attend such on-campus events. Dr. Jillian Tullis, a Communication Studies professor, regularly incorporates outside events that pertain to her class.
“I do think it is important for students to attend campus events,” Tullis said. “They are a great way to be exposed to new ideas — they can help us think deeply about contemporary issues and topics we are already studying. Being a member of the scholarly community includes attending these events, supporting our colleagues, and sharing knowledge with our peers. Learning doesn’t only take place in the classroom.”
USD professors also have many responsibilities that they must uphold, which results in busy schedules for them.
“Much like students, professors are pulled in many directions,” Tullis said. “We have to think about teaching, which includes preparing for our classes, not just delivering content, research, and service obligations, which help our departments, the college, and university function.”
Tullis pointed out that it can be difficult to coordinate the time to attend events and also balance class time.
“If I attend campus events, chances are I’m not attending to some other part of my job,” Tullis said. “If I encourage students to attend events as part of the class, I’m likely having to eliminate something else from the course. That said, I still find it worthwhile to get outside of the classroom and use the events as part of the class when I can.”
Shannon Starkey, an instructor in the Art, Architecture, and Art History department, thinks about on-campus events as additional educational opportunities for students.
“I think campus events are best when they are not necessarily tied to a particular class, but something totally outside,” Starkey said. “Every student has their interests and their major, which is funneling them toward certain kinds of narrow bodies of knowledge. Campus events can be a brief moment when you get to see a little bit of exposure to something else that you can’t formalize. In other words, we can’t all take classes in everything we are interested in, but we can go to an hour-long lecture as a way to say, ‘Yes, I’m interested.’”
Starkey hopes to see an increase in overall attendance to on-campus events, but pointed out why that may be unlikely to occur.
“The university places a high value on education being more than just what’s being taught in the classroom,” Starkey said. “But at the same time, the requirements of the curriculum are so intense that students are put into a bind in that they can’t attend things that maybe they would want to because their course requirements are too much.”
There are many views regarding the importance of on-campus events. It is difficult to determine whether in-class sessions should be prioritized over outside-of-classroom events, or vice versa. The answer may be that they are of equal stature, but students and professors should seek out a system of balance when it comes to deciding what to attend.