Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 27, 2018

VIAs: Are the Requirements Worth the Hassle?

Erin Brock


VIAs, otherwise known as Values, Ideas and the Arts have been a longstanding tradition for students, faculty, staff and the general public to attend. Students are only required to attend five for each semester they are at Manchester, but one student in particular decided to go above and beyond her first year on campus. Ava Mcvey, a sophomore psychology major decided to attend every VIA last year. “I think they’re a great learning experience,” Mcvey says, “but I knew I would be busy in the coming years so I tried to go to as many as possible in my first year.” Being a psychology major, she takes part in multiple extracurricular activities and campus jobs that can make attending VIAs difficult.

But she isn’t the only one with this dilemma. Many students face difficulties when trying to attend VIAs.

Other students (primarily athletes) express concern in the timing of these VIAs. Typically occurring on Tuesdays or Thursdays at either 3:30 or 7:00, it is not uncommon for VIAs to overlap with afternoon classes or sports practices, making it nearly impossible for athletes to attend while in season. Even if the event doesn’t overlap with practice, students are often involved with clubs or jobs that make attendance difficult, forcing students like Mcvey to cram their mandatory VIA attendance into one year or specific semesters. However, even if students are able to attend VIAs, the question remains whether or not they want to.

“They can be really interesting sometimes, but not always,” said Casey Arseneau, another student.

Manchester University is a liberal arts college with the intention of creating well-rounded students who can think for themselves about all sorts of topics. It is with this in mind that VIAs come into play – to educate, encourage and inspire. However, with less than half of Cordier Auditorium filling with students at each event, one can only wonder what impact these events are actually having on students.

This year, the VIA’s consist of topics such as Frankenstein, discussions on death and political matters such as the Constitution. But is this information what college students want to hear, what the university thinks they need to hear, or both? “I don’t feel like our input is taken into consideration,” said Casey, and she’s not alone.

Students like Fiona Frost, a first-year cross country and track athlete as well as Maria Dalman, another first-year student, expressed concern when discussing the VIA’s. Both claimed that they have been to some interesting ones, but if they’re not able to go, they may not always be interested in going. When other students were asked about VIA’s, they all started with positive answers before slowly working their way to statements similar to the ones of Casey or Ava – there is a level of difficulty involved in attending VIA’s that prohibits students from making the most of this resource offered to them.

This year, Mcvey has been to over half of the VIAs, but it’s not the streak she had in the past. VIAs will continue to be educational and inspirational events for the students to attend in hopes of creating the well-rounded person Manchester promises, but there may be extenuating circumstances, such as in Mcvey’s case, that can influence the students’ ability to fully grasp this opportunity. However, if students ever have ideas for VIA presentations, whether it be by themselves or a nominated third party, they are always welcome to submit a proposal.