Lecture Coordination Board accepting applications

If you could have one person come speak at Macalester, who would you bring? Hillary Clinton? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Ira Glass? Someone else? Chances are, there’s someone that you’ve always wanted to hear speak. What if you had the chance to bring that one famous author, that famous politician or that famous scientist here to campus?

Now, thanks to the Lectures Coordination Board, that idea can become a reality.

We’ve been really lucky as a school this year. The number of well-known, nationally-recognized speakers that have come to campus the past few months has been nothing short of astounding. Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Janet Mock, Richard Blanco, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Paul Farmer in a few months — they’ve repeatedly brought huge crowds and captured the collective interest of the school. Every single time a speaker has come to campus, they’ve brought fresh ideas and perspectives. Their talks become fodder for classroom discussions and informal conversations in Café Mac. They get people talking — they bring in fresh ideas, and their presence allows us to debate, discuss and grow.

It’s wonderful for our school’s reputation to say we’re able to bring speakers like that. For one, it’s fun to brag that we go to a school that brings huge speakers to campus on the regular. And when we can proudly say we’ve brought in nationally and internationally-known speakers to speak in Kagin, we’ll become even more of a magnet for them— people will want to come and speak here. Their presence makes us stronger.

This is where the Lectures Coordination Board comes in. A few years back, MCSG passed a bill creating the LCB and charged it with bringing plenty of large speakers and lecturers to campus. Students would apply to serve on the board, and they would be responsible for identifying, booking and coordinating speakers. Unfortunately, it never got off the ground. The LCB was created at the very end of the year, leaving no time for implementation. And the structure of the LCB was far too complicated and bureaucratic for anything meaningful to come out of it. They didn’t bring any speakers. Broken and flawed, the LCB slowly died.

The LCB’s first failure was disappointing, because the committee was a really ingenious idea, and it’s a shame that it never became a reality. This year, the Student Services and Relations Committee decided to bring the LCB back from the dead. We examined the old bylaws to see what worked and what went wrong, we talked to different groups on campus, and debated extensively about what this board should look like. Eventually, we introduced a revised bill, and it passed unanimously. It’s happening. The structure and support are both here — all we need are the members.

Five students will be selected every year to serve on the LCB. We will aim to create as diverse a board as possible to ensure multiple identities, views and academic interests are represented in the board. On Monday, you received an email inviting you to apply for different campus committees. If you want to serve on the LCB — and you should — fill out that form.

Here’s how it works: every year, $50,000 of the Student Activities Fee is set aside for the LCB. The five of you will be charged with using those funds to choose and book a speaker, arrange for their fees and expenses and promote them to the school. You’d survey the school and gauge who they would want to see speak, and act on those recommendations. It’s a really lucrative position, and there’s a lot of responsibility. Staff members from Campus Programs and Academic Programs, who have knowledge in booking speakers, would serve as advisors throughout the process. You could think of this process as similar to how Program Board chooses Springfest performers.

The applications for the LCB close on Saturday. I encourage all of you to apply. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or contact anybody on MCSG.

Joe Klein is a member of the Student Services and Relations Committee on MCSG.