Gretchen Geyer is a senior social work major at Goshen College.
Last Wednesday, Reyna Grande presented a very passionate and compelling personal story of overcoming many obstacles, working hard to reach her goal of higher education, and becoming an author. As I entered Umble Center, I was very impressed that it was nearly full. I finally found a seat near the back and anxiously anticipated Grande’s story.
At the beginning of chapel, Beverly Lapp politely reminded us once again, to please put away our electrical devices. She then invited us to welcome our guest speaker to talk to us about how important our education is and how lucky we are to have this opportunity.
Nearly on cue, at least seven students sitting in the rows surrounding mine, and many more throughout the auditorium, pulled out their iPads, iPods and smartphones. It is one thing to disrespect a peer or faculty member by using your electrical devices while they are presenting, but it is taken to the next level when the choice is made to do this to a guest speaker.
Some may argue that because chapel and convocation are required, students should be able to act however they want. However, by choosing to attend Goshen College, we were all made aware that we would have to attend a certain amount of chapels and convocations, totaling only 8 hours for the entire semester. Can we really not disconnect for 8 hours of a semester and pay our respect to whomever is presenting?
I have felt frustrated in the past, but, due to Grande’s very compelling story, this time it pushed my limit. As she told us about the 43 missing, now deceased students, who worked so hard to be the first in their families to attend a university, simultaneously I watched students play Candy Crush, Unblock Me and Snapchat. I had to think for a moment of how many people around the world would happily take our seats and respectfully pay attention if they had the chance to get a higher education.
I regret not turning to these students immediately after chapel and expressing my disappointment in their lack of respect, but I am committed to do this in the future and I encourage others to do the same.
I felt embarrassed that this was how we collectively chose to represent Goshen, I felt sad that certain students chose not to care about the troubles of the world by listening to this story and I felt frustrated that these devices were so distracting to myself and many others who were trying to listen.
Next convocation I strongly encourage everyone to unplug from social media for just forty minutes and engage in the presentation that is at hand.