Opinion: Should Assembly Be Mandatory?

Editor’s Note: These opinion articles represent the viewpoint of the author, and are posted here to stimulate discussion on this campus. The Southwesterner believes that meaningful, honest, open discussion is an important part of an academic setting, and is Christian by nature. We will continue to promote the concept of open and free dialog between students and the university.

By Maritza Ortiz

Maritza Ortiz

It’s a Thursday afternoon. The clock hits 12:50 p.m. and that means you have 10 minutes to walk over to assembly. However, if you’re like me, you face the challenge of deciding whether to go to assembly this week. Through several conversations with students and a few comments I’ve heard here and there, I’d like to take a look at a list of pros and cons of going to assembly.

Let’s start with the cons. No student pays attention to the guest speakers. You look over and see heads down, not because they’re praying, but because their phones are more entertaining than the speaker on stage. It’s not the speaker’s fault, most of the topics would benefit us if we could listen. However, assembly takes place right after lunch. Having to sit for an hour after eating tends to be a bad combination if what you’re looking for is our attention. I’ve definitely taken a nap or two at assembly.

Secondly, students could be doing more productive things like working on assignments, studying, or taking a break. After all, students are more than just students. They could use that extra hour to call a loved one, to work and pay off student debt, or to take care of their kids. That hour could be used to study for our finals, especially in these last weeks, when work just seems to pile on.

Finally, it’s an inconvenience for off-campus students who don’t have any Thursday classes and are forced to come to campus. This has happened several times to me and honestly, it’s a little irritating to have to schedule my day around an hour of assembly.

Some of you may be asking yourself, “Well why don’t you just skip?” It’s because I don’t want to get fined. Even though we get two excused absences per semester, life happens, and those absences are gone in the blink of an eye. After that, you get charged $10, which after a while starts to accumulate. For students who can barely pay their tuition, this fee is a problem.

Now for the Pros: it was hard to think of some pros of assembly, so I had to go around and ask some people what they liked about it.

One person said the giveaways they do from time to time are a good incentive. From gift cards to cash they both help students out financially and it’s not just money either. Now and then they will do assemblies offering free food, another great incentive especially for students who may have not liked what the cafeteria had to offer that day. In other words, positive incentives like cash, food, or awards are a great way to persuade students that they should attend assembly.

Hispanic heritage, S.A. elections, Nascar, D.R.A.W., and athletic assemblies, all of these also show a significant amount of students showing up.  All these assemblies have something in common and it’s the relevance to students. SWAU is a Hispanic-serving institution and of course, there will be a big turnout at any Hispanic-related event. SA elections and DRAW involve our entire student body and we know the people on stage. Athletic assemblies are a great way to show school spirit for our teams that go out to represent us. Finally, when Nascar shows up on campus, of course, students are going to be interested. It isn’t every day you get to meet celebrities in Keene.

In conclusion, assembly tends to provoke more negative than positive emotions. The point of this article isn’t to attack the idea of assembly but to show what I think of it and help staff understand what students like me think of assembly to find ways on how they can better the content of these gatherings. I completely understand that finding ways to relate to our students while staying within the school budget is a difficult job. However, if the student body was given a chance to speak on what could be done so assembly wouldn’t be so “boring” it would help boost attendance and the attention of the audience. For example, ask us what or who we would like to hear about, change the frequency of assembly, and find different ways for us to receive assembly credit other than sitting for an hour to hear a “guest speaker.”

Maybe by getting some feedback from students, our assemblies can improve and the time can be better spent by all of us.

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1 Comment

  1. Evin
    April 26, 04:10 Reply
    I agree with Maritza. I believe that sometimes assemblies could be boring. I had issue with the assemblies this semester, because my class started at 2:00pm, and sometimes these assemblies could go over 2pm, when in reality it should end at 1:50 pm so the student could get to class on time. That is my concern This a good post, and it should truly bring the attention to the people that organizes these assemblies.

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