State of the Butler Cultural Requirement, students’ bad behavior

Stop being such a baby. Illustration courtesy of Gabbie Evans

MADELEINE LUCCHETTI | OPINION COLUMNIST | mlucchet@butler.edu

President James Danko’s 2018 State of the University addressed a plethora of Butler-related news, but neglected to touch on the disturbing mannerisms plaguing a corner of our campus: the state of students at Butler Cultural Requirement activities.

In the day of instant virtual entertainment and 12-second attention spans, it’s understandably hard to sit through two-hour Bach concerti. There’s no fast-forward, no ESC key. Maybe you’d rather be losing Fortnite than hearing a Shakespearean monologue.

Private liberal arts schools tend to take pride in popping out well-rounded, worldly graduates. Ideally, we’ve been exposed to mediums like literature, art and music that have inspired our post-grad efforts, even in fields like medicine or business. To perpetuate the mystique and grandeur of a liberal arts education, Butler’s Core Curriculum dictates every student to attend cultural events on campus: “eight before you graduate.”

These “Butler Cultural Requirements,” colloquially known as BCRs, are mainly hosted within the Butler Arts Center complex, made up of Clowes Memorial Hall, Schrott Center for the Performing Arts and the Duckwall-Eidson Recital Hall.

The capacity of these venues ranges. Clowes is the venti of the Center and seats an audience of 2,123. Schrott seats a comfortable 454, and Duckwall merely a tall 138.

Even if you never apply the rules of haiku or sonata to your everyday life, Butler’s hope is that you’ll come across decently literate at cocktail parties or, excuse me, that you’ll “develop habits of participation…that will lead to lifelong engagement with the creative arts and public intellectual life.”

For those of us who value and enjoy performances, free tickets to such events is quite the jackpot.

For those of us who can’t distinguish a play from a ballet, though, this obligation forces a lot of disinterested people into theatres. Some in this category emerge from intermission with a newfound appreciation for cello or modern dance. Some actually don’t emerge at intermission because they’re snoozing in the plush chairs. If our interest isn’t piqued immediately, eyelids in every row droop toward harshly lit iPhone screens.

The massive scale of Clowes can typically mask any rude audience habits —like the girl behind you compulsively crinkling her Snickers wrapper— and smother noise with orchestral volume. In smaller spaces like Schrott and “Duckie,” impolite behavior is cringingly obvious.

Butler’s Core Curriculum department, which mandates the numbered BCR requirement, relinquishes responsibility of student behavior to event supervisors: other students. There are no disciplinarians in the house; the sole employees are doing homework in the lobby.

Brian Oakley serves as the staff point of contact for Schrott. When asked if he agreed that poor etiquette is an issue, he took an optimistic, if not blind, stance on the subject:

“We enjoy the attendance of Butler students at events in each of the venues, and love the opportunity to connect with students over a variety of topics, entertainers, and occasions,” he said.

Well.  

Maybe the person onstage is absolutely awful.

I’m a JCA student, and still remember absolutely hating a few recitals and Visiting Writer Series’ talks. But it doesn’t matter how awful you think the night is; your eyerolls and immature giggling is appalling—and so, so visible. Whoever is onstage is pouring out their heart’s work to you and deserves some semblance of respect.

Sophie Sharon is first-year arts administration major and a bassoonist. She’s already witnessed how disruptive audiences affect the confidence — and subsequent performance— of artists while onstage.

“Oh, yeah, it’s terrible. I’ve seen people on their phones all the time,” Sharon said. “And you can see it from the stage, it’s so obvious. They don’t know how to behave.”

Would you Snapchat a job interview or a lab experiment? Would you whisper in the front row of a religious ceremony or chew loudly along with a class presentation? No? Then why are you comfortable doing so in this instance?

Complain as you might, the BCR isn’t going anywhere. Grit your teeth and bear it.

With class, people.

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