President Brian Rosenberg will ask His Holiness the Dalai Lama questions from a vetted list on March 2, in accordance with protocol from His Holiness’ office.
According to Director of Communications David Warch, His Holiness’ Advance Team required that all questions be submitted in writing in advance. To generate a list, he said that the Provost’s Office asked professors of three courses to have their students submit questions by Monday.
The courses included neuroscience Professor Eric Wiertelak’s Senior Seminar: Pain and Suffering, religious studies Professor Erik Davis’ Introduction to Buddhism, and international studies Professor Ahmed Samatar’s Paradigms of World Order. Warch said students from all three courses submitted questions. The Provost’s Office received 28 questions in total.
Provost Kathy Murray picked the three courses on Vice President of Affairs Laurie Hamre’s suggestion. Murray said they selected a limited number of courses to keep from being “inundated” with questions. Hamre wrote in an email that she selected those courses with subject matter closely related to His Holiness’ work.
Murray explained that President Rosenberg will select three or four questions to ask His Holiness after he concludes his remarks. However, she added, there may not be time for questions during the event.
“…[it] depends how long His Holiness speaks,” she said. “There is a hard end to the event, [of which] I have not been briefed.”
According to Warch, His Holiness has a tight schedule and will only be on campus for two hours, 40 minutes of which he will be speaking. After factoring in time to move His Holiness around campus and prep him for speaking, Warch expects time for three or four questions at most. Murray said His Holiness’ protocol was very specific about this process when asked about the possibility of a question and answer period.
“His Holiness’ New York secretary said, ‘We typically collect questions in advance and someone like the president selects questions,” she said. “So that’s what we are doing.”
Murray said she expected some people would not be happy that he could not answer questions, but that this was the protocol.
“It was sort of a ‘No choice, no problem,’” she said. “[Because we are] not going to get His Holiness another way.”
Rachel Fogel ’16 submitted questions through Introduction to Buddhism. She wrote in an email that she could not pass up the opportunity.
“I am excited about the opportunity to ask a question mainly because it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance!” she wrote.
A psychology major, she wrote that she considered asking about neuroscience or meditation, but instead chose to ask about His Holiness’ personality.
She submitted the following: “I’d like to know if/when and how the Dalai Lama felt that he had figured out what his role is in the Buddhist community, how he would describe his role, and how he sees himself outside the Buddhist community.”
Fogel wrote that she is most interested in what His Holiness would say about himself.
“I am genuinely interested in listening to [His Holiness the Dalai Lama] speak about himself, not just about big topics,” she wrote.