Last Tuesday you may recall there were no classes from noon to 3 p.m. I’m sure all of you, being good little GW students, took the opportunity to make the most of your time.
Whether you were sleeping in, watching soaps or chatting girls up on the Burger King line you did mom and dad’s 30-grand proud. However, since you were doing all these things, there was one thing you didn’t do – attend the Millennium Convocation, which, incidentally, was the reason that classes were canceled. Just to let you know what you missed I, who happened to be there, thought I’d fill you in on who was there and what went on.
Despite a less than desired student turnout (think chirping crickets in an empty field) much of the faculty showed up for the event. Our profs got dressed up in those elegant caps and gowns you usually only see at graduation. There were enough fancy tassels, cowls and those three-striped thingies to drive Chief Justice William Rehnquist mad with jealousy. Yep, there sure were a lot of faculty members there, though oddly enough not one of my instructors, hmm.
The Millennium Convocation involved a lot of pomp and circumstance. On stage next to the podium was the University’s mace. Why does the University have a mace? one might inquire. Because it’s convenient to have a large medieval weapon lying around just in case a marauding band of Vikings pull their longships up along the Potomac and decide to pillage the Marvin Center. There’s also a new medal for the University to hand out. Wonder what the price tag, err.donation, to receive that is. Even GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was decked out is his best medieval finery. Of course, he’s the president, so he got to wear a fancy gold necklace.
Dr. Wills, the speaker who was brought in to deliver the keynote address, was actually interesting – go figure he’s a professor at another school. He talked about George Washington and for the briefest of moments I was proud of GW and being a student here. I was quickly brought back to Earth by the comedic stylings of Trachtenberg and University Marshal Kasle; she carries the mace around thus warding off the Tartars. The event closed with the standard disbursal of free T-shirts, the little food pellets by which the University population is kept in line.
I left, free T-shirt in hand, wondering what could have been done to get more students to attend. My answer came Friday when I went to see the new Bond Movie, The World is not Enough. Don’t believe the critic who said it was the best Bond movie ever, I think MGM’s got the guy’s kids or something. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. Plenty of the requisite hot women of questionable moral character, Q-branch laser torch, AM/FM radio, GPS transmitter, grappling hook tie clips, and obnoxiously expensive European cars that always manage to get trashed regardless of the fact that they have more firepower than a small Middle Eastern nation. If I just ruined the movie for you, I’m sorry, and might I also welcome you to late 20th-century culture?
Looking at the long lines of eager people who had happily shown up an hour early to purchase tickets for 007, I couldn’t help but think that if only GW combined certain elements of the Bond experience with future convocations, attendance at those events would surely rise. What undergrad, cynical or not, wouldn’t show up for free T-shirts and a nuclear weapons specialist portrayed by Denise Richards in what is sure to be viewed by the Academy as an Oscar-meriting performance? Or the free T-shirts could just come with a secret compartment for carrying microfilm through the draconian security stations of the breakaway republic of Kraplakistan.
Now I’m not saying that this plan is foolproof. I’m the last person who wants to see Trachtenberg and Kasle trade double entendres about the Washington Monument and river horses. But I am saying that it would be cool to see a Convocation end in a dramatic confrontation between Her Majesty’s own James Bond and an army of goons led by a maniacal genius bent on ruling the world with a iron fist.
We already have half of that equation.