By Amanda Richey, Assistant News Editor
The number of Cultural Life Program events a student attends in any given semester affects their priority for choosing classes for the following term and more importantly is a requirement for graduation. While many students find it easy to meet the 32 CLP event attendance requirement, there are many others who struggle to get every single credit before walking out of Furman’s gates for the last time.
According to Melissa Corbett, a senior who works with the Cultural Life Program, the events in the spring semester are attended almost exclusively by seniors.
“As we get closer to the end of the year it seems that there are more faces repeated at CLPs. And from chatting with some of them, most seniors seem to have at least 7 CLPs left to attend their last semester,” Corbett said. “There have been many [events] this semester where people are attending multiple CLPs in one day.”
A survey conducted at the Lisa Randall Science and Religion CLP event April 10 showed that the majority of students in attendance were upperclassmen. While a large number of students were genuinely interested in the topic that the event addressed, just as many stated that their primary goal in attending the event was to gain the required CLP credit.
This mentality was evident in the talk. Even though Randall addressed poignant questions like “Why does life matter?” as well as the difference between scientific and religious views of the world, a good portion of the students in the audience were glued to their phones or falling asleep.
While there is an abundance of events that count for CLP credit (there were 39 in April alone), there isn’t always enough time for students to fit them into their busy schedules. If a student is a member of an athletic team, then the majority of their free time is devoted to workouts or games. If a student is involved with a theatrical or musical production, they will only receive CLP credit for one night of a performance that took months of their time to produce. If any student is even marginally engaged in an extracurricular club, then their available time to attend CLP events is significantly reduced.
The struggle many upperclassmen have to meet this requirement makes one wonder what distinguishes Cultural Life Program events from other student-life activities. The program is defined on the Furman website as “a turn from pressure toward conformity … as an exploration of calling, and…as a way to enhance community.”
But arguably these goals are also met by “Pizza and Politics” lunches, Improv!able Cause shows, and other student-led events that don’t count towards the requisite 32 credits for graduation.
Is it fair to ask the typical Furman student, with a busy academic schedule and a busier extracurricular schedule, to pile on even more activities to his or her hectic calendar? Is the purpose of the Cultural Life Program, to introduce students to foreign perspectives in a shared space with their peers, really being fulfilled when the events simply become a checklist to complete before graduation?
As the countdown to May 10starts, these are the questions that might very well be asked by the frantic droves of students who hop from CLP to CLP.