Students’ disrespect uncalled for at lecture

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As most of the school, town and state knows, Sherman Alexie, author of SDSU’s Common Read, spoke on campus this past week. If you, like me, attended his talk at Frost Arena on Wednesday night, you’ll know that he was funny, interesting and insightful. Afterwards, I was excited, energized and satisfied with his talk. However, probably the most prominent emotions that I would use to describe the experience were annoyance and embarrassment. Why, you ask? Well, it had nothing to do with Alexie. It had everything to do with the audience. In his introduction, President Chicoine took special pains to note that Alexie was a basketball fan and that this event was happening in the basketball arena. Well, it certainly felt like a basketball game. People indiscriminately talking and making noise. Masses of people walking around during the middle of the talk. People leaving in steady streams throughout.

Admittedly, the sound system was not ideal and Alexie was at times hard to hear. However, this does not excuse the distracting and rude behavior from a significant portion of the crowd. It was hard enough to hear without students jumping down the bleachers as loudly as possible mid-speech. The mass exodus before the Q-and-A session was the worst. By that time, seemingly three-fourths of the crowd had deemed it time to go (and not too quietly).

In all, I was extremely embarrassed for both SDSU and South Dakota as a whole. I would have thought that we were a little more courteous and well-mannered. The whole thing was well under 90 minutes. It’s pretty depressing that we can’t sacrifice that much time for a great speaker. After the talk, I was pleased to see a massive line waiting to get Alexie’s autograph. I just hope he remembers that enthusiasm from South Dakotans rather than the disrespectable behavior of too many others. 

Bridget Nordquist

SDSU Instructor