Students and administrators alike should work together to make the Common Experience a more worthwhile event.
While the Common Experience aims to unite Bobcats in a campus-wide discussion, the program currently does not reach a majority of students. As it is now, the Common Experience lacks mass appeal. While philosophy dialogues and scholarly speeches have merit, they only appeal to a narrow demographic of students. The Common Experience is supposed to unite the student body for the purpose of exploring a common idea through debating and learning. Sadly, a large portion of students are not engaging in the Common Experience at all, which defeats the purpose of the program in the first place.
The Common Experience should be a center for campus events to orbit around. Clubs and organizations should be encouraged to bring up the Common Experience theme in meetings. For example, Feminists United could talk about international women’s issues in the context of this year’s topic, a Global Odyssey. Classes should use the Common Experience theme as a point of discussion by integrating it into lesson plans to create an overarching unification.
Common Experience events should also be more visible and take up space in The Quad and other popular areas. Instead of limiting events to speeches and debates tucked away in auditoriums, the Common Experience should hold outdoor, attention-grabbing activities as well.
With last year’s freedom of speech theme, for example, Texas State could have hosted student-organized protests at The Quad or held festivals on campus to honor the university news outlets. With the Global Odyssey theme this year, we could have public festivals on international holidays, foreign film showings in Sewell or live folk music by the Fighting Stallions statue.
There is a place for faculty lunches, scholarly speeches and conferences. So, there also needs to be a wider variety of fun, engaging events in the Common Experience that will better attract students. Part of the problem is few students are involved in the planning process for the Common Experience events.
According to Diann McCabe, co-chair of the Common Experience, although some students already attend the event-planning meetings, more are always welcome to join. A greater variety of events could be planned if more students were present at the meetings to give their input.
If Bobcats want to see a better selection of Common Experience events this year, they should get involved. In the past, the Common Experience has felt somewhat lackluster and not directly relevant to student interests.
This year, more students should attend Common Experience planning meetings and propose fun events that everyone can enjoy. The next Common Experience planning meeting is on Sept. 14 and will be held in room 502 of the Lampasas building.