Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Whale of a Distraction

If you took the time to read one of the flyers posted in Red Square, and then really turned the description of the event over in your mind for a few moments, you would have sworn it was a joke. An obscure young actress who plays a cheerleader on an NBC show comes to campus and urges students: “Save the whales – again!” It sounds like the perfect fodder for a sketch-comedy show: One of the most widely lampooned environmental campaigns in modern times chooses a spokesperson with Paris Hilton-level credibility to lead its resurgence. Not even a real cheerleader – she just plays one on TV! But sadly, this weekend, Marine Biologist Barbie was not simply a punch line. It was the Lecture Fund’s most widely publicized event in months: a two-hour spectacle of bleeding-heart emotion from Hayden Panettiere, who most Georgetown students probably remember best for her role as Denzel Washington’s obnoxious adolescent antagonist in the poignant “Remember the Titans.” For those of you who might have forgotten, the Lecture Fund is a venerable campus organization that invites speakers to campus and organizes panel discussions and other programming aimed at raising the level of public discourse at Georgetown. In just the last year and a half, the Lecture Fund has sponsored or co-sponsored events on campus headlined by such luminaries as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Chris Simcox, the founder and president of the hard-line anti-immigration group the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), whose name has been in a few headlines recently. Last semester, the Lecture Fund helped bring former Mexican president Vicente Fox and then-presidential candidate Bill Richardson to Georgetown. Clearly, Georgetown owes much of its international prestige as a leading U.S. university able to attract the most powerful voices in politics and policy to the efforts of the Lecture Fund. But big-name events are only part of the important work that the group does on the Hilltop. The Lecture Fund also coordinates an array of other, smaller speaking events with more targeted educational purposes. This semester, the group has planned events on topics ranging from alternative energy sources to mapping the human genome to the frenzied election season, all featuring knowledgeable and insightful speakers. We don’t expect to see a head of state on campus every week. The Lecture Fund can work productively to plan a few marquee events each semester while still providing a rich layer of programming that attracts less press coverage but still enhances intellectual life here at Georgetown. Why, then, does the group feel the need to occasionally throw in such laughable and frivolous events as a fake celebrity spouting off fake environmentalism? What were they thinking when they agreed to attach their name to the “Art of Kissing” event last fall? As much as we would expect college students to enjoy a speaker who is sensually appealing, it’s time for the Lecture Fund to reassert the organization’s true duty to the campus. As for attractive women, there really isn’t a need to invite one to come to this campus, we have our own.

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