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Point Counterpoint: Should students be required to attend convocations?

May 5, 2017

There have been many debates over whether or not convocations should be a requirement for graduation. Read on as our columnists give their sides.

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The convocation obligation

Convocations. Some students will cringe at their mention.

Convocations are an exclusive Lakeland University requirement; students must attend 24 convocation-credited events in order to graduate. It’s simple enough to understand.

However, these convocations that start out as a well-intentioned effort to expand students’ education often wind up being an obligation that many students drag themselves to simply for graduation purposes rather than for enlightenment.

One Lakeland alumni said, “I enjoyed going to the musicals and band performances. I tried to get as many of my convocations done by attending those. Most of the others I went to just because I had to, I don’t even remember what they all were.”

Some convocations include guest speakers on varying topics. I wonder how often a room is filled with students cramming in their convocation attendances, spending the entire hour or more with their faces buried into their phones, and how this reflects on the campus to the community members in attendance.

In no public university will you find a requirement to attend sanctioned events in order to graduate. General studies electives, or the majority of credits that go toward an associate degree, is considered proof of the well-rounded education universities aim to bestow upon their students.

Remember taking an English literature course even though your major is microbiology? Pray to any higher powers that you made it through your advanced algebra exam in order to continue your sociology degree?

Or maybe you paid a couple hundred bucks for a Business 101 course that you had no need to sit through, but you needed some electives, something to “expand” your education. Didn’t that fulfill the requirements of a well-rounded education?

So now, on top of all their academic work, students need to put in even more time outside of class, outside of work, outside of their families and other obligations in order to fulfill their convocation requirements for graduation.

There are students who have finished all of their academic requirements for a degree, but were never handed their diploma due to not meeting their convocation requirements.

The statement that comes up often regarding convocations is that “they benefit students in the end.” That statement, while well-intentioned, sounds like a statement you hear in your youth from teachers or parents, “It’ll be good for you.” As a campus of adults enrolled in secondary education (with ever-increasing tuition costs), don’t students already have a keen grasp of “what’s good for us?”

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    Convocations expand horizons

    I have heard many complaints regarding convocations: they’re boring, there’s too many of them, etc. I found myself in a mini panic going into my senior year without having all of my convocations finished, but with a little effort and open-mindedness, I was able to complete this requirement while also becoming a better student and person because of them.

    Convocations include everything from art exhibits to musicals. I have attended convocations that allowed me to watch my classmates perform on stage for a large audience. Additionally, I have attended convocations that Lakeland has put on for the community, such as ThinkHaus sessions, during which I learned about political rhetoric and how to understand political debates.

    Yes, there have been convocations that have caused me to nearly fall out of my seat in a slumber, but the benefits have outweighed the drawbacks. Convocations provide students with useful information that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.

    One Lakeland student said, “Twenty-four is too many to complete. If there were less to do, I think students wouldn’t mind going to them and they’d be easier to get done.”

    I agree that 24 is a rather large number to complete, but there are over 30 convocations offered per year. This means that students have more than enough opportunity to fit in their convocations. If you spread the convocations out over your four years at Lakeland, you only need to attend three convocations a semester.

    Another complaint regarding convocations is that they are not interesting or fun enough. However, these convocations are meant to be informative and inspiring. They give students the opportunity to expand their horizons and experience new cultures. With so many different convocations offered, students have the option of attending ones that seem interesting to them.

    Convocations are a great way to become an open-minded and well-rounded student. I’m appreciative that Lakeland offers and requires them.

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