Cultural Life Programs: Can We Fix This?


Our CLP system is broken. Events like Rocky Horror (CLP-accredited both Fall of 2011 and Spring of 2012, although, not since) obtain CLP credit while faculty recitals, Furman Engaged presentations, and OLLI’s informative Shakespeare showings do not. Students line up for CLPs long in advance only to hear that they can sit on the floor without attendance credit. Faculty members skip meetings to hear speakers only to be turned away at the door. Now it seems like the only way to get CLP credit is to attend ticketed events like a Playhouse Theatre productions that, while wonderful, require students to pay out-of-pocket for their academic experiences.

In recent years, the CLP committee has established more rigorous vetting procedures to make sure that nonacademic CLPs do not get approved. Combined with Furman’s growing freshmen classes, however, these vetting procedures leave more student organizations trying to get CLP-approval for last-minute events hopeless. The committee might benefit from instituting stream-lined processes for academically-based organizations that have proved their CLP worth in years past while reviewing their overall distribution of approved events. This semester, in particular, many event advertisements use the tagline “CLP-pending”. This can mislead students on the actual CLP status only to find out at the door that they will not be receiving CLP credit. Editing the CLP review process could eliminate this problem. Whether shortening the time allotted to deciding whether an event is CLP-approved or not or prohibiting student organizations from faulty-advertisement, CLP-pending statuses can be prevented with extra caution.

The issue lies not only with the CLP committee. Event organizers need to take into account the increased numbers of potential attendees and correctly choose a location big enough to house the many crowds of students wanting to attend interesting CLPs. International Festivals providing food have a long history of being maxed out. Events such as these that have a history of having to turn eager students and faculty (who have just as much a right to attend these events as others) away need to adjust their setting for future events. Rather than host popular CLPs in small rooms like Daniel Recital Hall or Patrick Lecture Hall, organizations should reserve larger rooms like Watkins or McAlister Auditorium. This allows space for many more students and community members to attend the event. The CLP committee also needs to take note of popular CLPs and prepare extra CLP cards for these events and advise student organizations to change their locations the next time the event requests CLP status.

These problems are not the result of a single person or department. They cannot be solved with a single systematic overhaul or attempt at CLP reform. Yet the Cultural Life Programs are at the core of what Furman, as a liberal arts institution, attempts to do. They provide opportunities for all those in the Greenville community to expand their horizons, exposing us all to new ideas that have the power to change our community and our world. In fact, we, as a paper, would like to see the CLP system expanded whether by categorizing CLPs to make sure students attend a diverse variety of events or by staging intentional discussions and themed weeks built around increased engagement in CLPs and the issues they discuss.

The issue is not in the lack of expansion of the CLP program but the survival of it. Due to problems like those Furman is facing right now, institutions around the Upstate are decreasing the importance of these kinds of experiences in their curriculums. Presbyterian College has cut back on their CEP system, requiring students to obtain only two CEP credits in order to graduate. Lander University requires students to obtain 15 FAL credits. If we want to continue calling the Cultural Life Program one of Furman’s “Signature Programs,” a worthwhile opportunity which sets Furman apart, then we need to begin to address these problems before it is too late. How many times will students sit through events without credit before they stop attending CLPs? How many times will speakers come to Furman only to watch half their audience get turned away at the door before they stop coming at all?

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