Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 14, 2018

VIAs: ‘Engaging’ or ‘Redundant’?

Victoria Heishman

For some students, VIAs may be fun, new and exciting ways to learn about new topics, but for some, it’s just not something they’re interested in but are required to do.

Manchester offers a variety of VIAs (Values, Ideas and the Arts) on campus, the goals of which are to “broaden students’ cultural experiences, enrich students intellectually and aesthetically, provide opportunities to experience the arts, promote dialogue about ideas and values, and embody in its programs the values expressed in the University Mission” as stated on the Manchester website.

Students who attend VIAs are required to show up on time, stay for the duration of the lecture, and have their ID on them, ready to be swiped once the event is over. Nearly all VIAs last one hour, unless otherwise stated.

Manchester tries to provide diverse, engaging programming. During the 2017–2018 school year, for instance, a VIA addressed the series “13 Reasons Why," healthy ways of dealing with depression, and the show’s poor handling of the topic of mental health.  This week featured, “Manchester in Action: Addressing Poverty," which informed students on ways to fight against poverty and highlighted opportunities for specific service opportunities related to poverty.

Despite the wide variety of VIAs offered for students at Manchester, many stick to the same topics, causing some students to lose interest. “They are redundant, and have a tendency to become inconvenient,” said Victoria Clark-Conrad. “We are here for an education, not to be forced into events that I have no interest in.”

Rather than becoming an exciting experience, the requirement to attend at least 10 VIA events a year becomes more of a burden. For many students, finding the time to attend this many VIAs can be a struggle, especially if they don’t have an interest in the topic, leading to a lack of concentration on the presentation.

Their inability to attend events may also be schedule dependent, as a student may work during the hours of many of the VIA events.  For students with lighter schedules, and a larger frame of interest, attending 10 events a year would be quite easy, and could very easily become incredibly educational experiences for them.

So although Manchester’s VIAs are presented with the best of intentions, they may not be meeting students’ interests and availability.