What worked at the Speakers and Debate crash course on zombies? Not much.
All Photos by Kelly Kimball
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By Kelly Kimball
ASUCI’s Speakers and Debate Commission hosted an intriguingly titled event this past Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the UCI Student Center : A Crash Course on “The Walking Dead.” The daring ad enticed curious students to look back longingly at those feverish nights of binge-watching the famous AMC TV show, which may have forced them to wonder, “Could I really survive a zombie apocalypse?” The posters that scattered along Ring Road just days before the event posed a poignant question, “Have you ever wondered what would really happen if you found yourself in a zombiepocalypse? Or if you could actually survive a zombie attack?” However, with all of its wonder and glitz, the event itself proved to be bland, uninformative, and shockingly under-attended.
The evening divided evenly into four 10- to 15-minute presentations by UCI faculty members including Dr. Michael Dennin from the School of Physical Science, Dr. Joanne Christopherson from the School of Social Sciences, Dr. Zuzana Bic from the School of Public Health, and Dr. Sarah Eichhorn from the School of Mathematics. Each of these seasoned professors was supposed to talk insightfully about how to survive a zombie apocalypse through the lens of his or her respective schools. However, the entire evening felt more like a publicity stunt—advertising an international online course that each of them teaches.
The 15-minute sessions were merely a ramble of the course, syllabus, and their thrilling personal experiences with “The Walking Dead” stars themselves. The irony here was that none of it truly mattered to the attendees of this unfortunate event.
This online course is part of a much bigger organization with 65,552 students enrolled from over 90 countries and nearly 1,000 news stories related to its fruition. Although this is an incredible feat, I did not attend this event to hear an hour-long commercial and neither did the 20 other student attendees. A second-year Biology student, Michelle Lin, shares her disappointment:
“I expected something interesting and something insightful, yet what I got out of [the event] was absolutely nothing at all. All the professors ever talked about were their careers as a professor and how interesting it was to binge-watch ‘The Walking Dead’ on Netflix. I thought they would use their insight from their field to really analyze the “The Walking Dead” or the idea of zombies.”
Perhaps, if the event focused on just two or three professors and some resonating points in their research in regards to a zombie apocalypse, the event would have been more fruitful for the attendees. With four professors talking for just a few minutes, their presentations felt rushed and superficial.
Despite the lack of success with this particular Speakers and Debate event, this ASUCI commission has brought in some incredible individuals who have sparked interesting dialogue on contemporary student issues. These speakers include actor and comedian Rainn Wilson, Spokesperson for Amnesty and actress Nazanin Boniadi, and founder of Invisible Children Jason Russell. Needless to say, there is much more to look forward to with this commission.