Rant: Engagement Experiences

I caught sight of a colorfully-decorated whiteboard walking through the SUB the other day. No surprise there. Promoting a club involvement fair or something. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. “Get out!” it shouted. “Get engaged!”

Wait a minute? Is MSU hoping to boost student marriage rates or something?

I can’t quite figure out what the message was aiming for. Maybe it had something to do with the number of times MSU’s new strategic plan uses “engagement” (38, actually), part of some lofty effort to promote strong relationships and community values. Or perhaps some well-intentioned university staffer just got so excited about a buzzword that they didn’t notice the double entendre.

Does marriage count as an “engagement experience” all of a sudden? What about cohabitation without the ceremony? Do both spouses have to be enrolled? Are we okay with same-sex engagement?

The irony here is that “engagement,” properly used, is a powerful word, rightly among our university’s guiding principles. But rendering its adjective form in Expo marker between “get” and an exclamation point just doesn’t do the idea justice. Its value stems not from poorly thought-out promotional appeals but from a deeper sort of magic, those precious moments when some experience shifts our hearts and minds into gear.

Get out! Sure, administrators. Just get your marketing out of neutral, first.