Meliora” is UR’s official motto, representing the university’s commitment to be always better. This year, Meliora Weekend lacks the star power of previous years, despite its high quality speakers.
It is clear from any Meliora Weekend flyer that none of the speakers are of the same notoriety as, for instance, Hillary Clinton or Bill Bennett.
Instead, we are expected to eagerly register for and attend events such as a speech by the inventor of the Segway.
While the speakers that are coming to UR are extremely substantive and leaders in their fields, the problem remains that parents and alumni do not have sufficient reason to travel hundreds of miles. It is undeniable that big names are needed to attract people – namely alumni and parents – to campus.
Good speakers who have no star power will not make Meliora Weekend a success. Excellent speakers are constantly on campus in the classroom and in lecture series, but Meliora Weekend is supposed to be special – better.
There needs to be a reason this weekend stands out from all others. After all, considering that Meliora Weekend is the amalgamation of homecoming, alumni reunions, family weekend and the Stonehurst Regatta, every effort should be made to attract as many parents, students and alumni as possible.
If having some celebrity star power achieves this measure then it should be viewed as a necessary component. If the weekend is meant to be special, the caliber of speakers must be a cut above the standard in both substance and star power.
There are concerns that the reason the weekend has lost some of its pizazz is due to a logistic inability to cope with the huge influx of visitors.
The problem of parking, for example, a chronic affliction of the university, is perhaps completely unmanageable during the weekend. That, however, is not a good reason to attempt to reduce the impact of the weekend.
Perhaps Parking Services should reassess ideas such as additional temporary parking arrangements, so as to be able to accommodate the greatest possible number of visitors. Similarly, many visitors last year found themselves shut out of events or presentations.
This was not a major problem, however, and should not be a deterrent. The alternative measures taken to extend the events to larger audiences allowed many to hear speakers they otherwise would not have been able to hear.
When thousands of people visit UR, we can take advantage of the fact that they can easily also visit many parts of Rochester itself. Meliora Weekend should be a huge boon for the tourism industry of the city. UR should expand on its working and mutually beneficial relationship with the city of Rochester to handle the logistical aspects of Meliora Weekend.
This weekend has an opportunity to be something great. We as students can get excited when a great comedian or entertainer comes to campus and encourage our friends and family to come.
We can get a chance to hear great politicians, poets and professionals speak – a chance we would never have outside of an event such as Meliora Weekend. It is a fantastic idea, and has been successful for its first two years. To see such a weekend take a sharp turn for the bland is quite disappointing.
The administration is trying to make Meliora Weekend one of the best traditions at UR, and the primary event of the fall semester. By skimping in terms of speakers, especially during the formative years of this tradition, it only makes it harder for students, parents and alumni to get geared up for the event.
Until Meliora Weekend is cemented in the minds and culture of the university community as a solid tradition – one to be excited about – every year the organizers need to raise the bar. Every year needs to give new meaning to our motto “Meliora” – always better.