People will pay attention to the most interesting thing in the room. The candid knowledge of this anthropological fact can be an indispensable tool for getting a message out in a way that’s actually effective. The weekly communiqué to all the members of the University of Dallas community with the dubious privilege of being on Dean of Students Dr. Gregory Roper’s email list is, I believe, a prime example of this principle’s application.
A list of announcements, traditionally, is the ignored part of many a meeting, society, group or gathering, often to no blame of the listeners — or lack thereof. The reason for this is simple; they can be so bland! The question for those individuals saddled with sharing such necessary notifications becomes, then, what to do? How does one overcome the hurdle of an audience’s predetermined dismissal of boring announcements?
To the occasion rises the wit and welcome of the opening lines of Roper’s Charity Week notice, “Get out there and have some fun, and cough up a few bucks for the less fortunate while you’re doing so.”
I, for one, find the simple consonance and contrasting consonants of such a sentence arresting. Guilty of the same suspicious dismissal of announcement emails as many of my contemporaries, my eyes nevertheless remain glued to the rest of his work. And a work, indeed, it is.
From helpful bolds of the important print for those who wish to skim, to the minute humorous tidbits scattered between listed times and events, Roper aims at gaining the attention of his audience and making a typically tiresome read into a welcome reprieve from the wholesome yet sometimes exhausting work of dissecting Plato or Pythagoras.
And this attention to entertaining detail allows the author to cram an impressive quantity of useful items into the UD agenda: club meetings, monk drownings, play productions and mustache duels all find their place in the playful yet informative prose of the Dean’s writing.
Charity Week as an iconic event is not the only time that he has made an effort to make a rewarding recap of campus antics: I remember with fondness — as I hope others do — the chronicle of Roper’s psychological struggles with his possibility of being Dead Greg himself, with us students as Dantean wraiths ensuring his purgatorial stay was fruitful, or his homage to the heroic sacrifice of the Electric Squirrel, who was the cause of much rejoicing for classes canceled.
For those whose time and energy are expended to put together all the varied and vibrant activities reported in his emails, Roper’s efforts are appreciated, I’m sure. His surmounting of the common derision of announcements is no small task and neither is the benefit undoubtedly gained by these events.
A good thing, to be sure; when talented and intelligent individuals make talks on Aquinas, Italian politics or Thomas More, Roper is there to spread the word in a fun and fascinating manner. For the attendees of these expressions of knowledge, the knowledge of their existence is the first step to enlightenment. No matter the meeting, no matter the day, Roper’s emails send boredom away.