My campus invites a variety of speakers to come to campus to speak to our community (on and off campus). I tend to encourage my students to go to at least one campus speaker, as part of my efforts to get them to try some of the variety of intellectual pursuits available around campus.
In the past several years, I've noticed a trend, coincident with the "student life" folks' growing emphasis on "alcohol education." Evidently, there's a huge market in "Hollywood Has-Beens with Substance Abuse Problems" who go on speaking tours every fall, travelling from college to college, university to university, expounding on the ills of alcohol and whatever other substances they really like(d).
If campus rumors are true, a recent Hollywood Has-Been who spoke on campus then went out drinking with some of the "student life" folks, ending up quite drunk in a local student bar. I must admit, I'm unconvinced that having a Hollywood Has-Been speak convinces any of our students not to drink underage or to excess, or not to try whatever the substance du jour is on campus.
This fall, we have a Hollywood Has-Been coming to campus. The other speaker is a child of a famous couple who's going to speak on an imaginary non-being. Think unicorns. And no, the speech isn't along the lines of "Unicorns in the Graphic Art of Medieval France," or "Popular Marketing and Unicorns: Lessons in Selling to Pre-Teen Girls." Nope, it's more along the lines of "Unicorns!"
Two speakers. What do these speakers contribute to the intellectual life of the university?
I called the appropriate office today to suggest a speaker (the guy who puts together PostSecret is now speaking on campuses; that could be way cool), and by the by mentioned my disappointment with the speakers for this term. The person on the other end of the line said that s/he'd heard a lot of complaints. I hope they listen to the complaints!
I won't be encouraging my students to go to these talks this semester, alas.
Does anyone know if there's even the slightest bit of evidence that the Hollywood Has-Been speaker model contributes anything to changing student drinking behavior?
Our students are utterly cynical about the Hollywood Has-Beens, cynical far beyond me.