Before You Die, Write on the Blackboard in the Bistro

Cam Peters • The Spectator

The "Before I Die" exhibit put on by SEAC is in on display from February 29 to March 14.

Resembling the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a blackboard has found its home in the corner of the billiards room at the Bistro. With the words “Before I Die…” blazoned across the top, it begs students to approach it. Scribbled beneath are words, maybe written by another student, a Bistro worker or perhaps even a teacher.

These words are hopes, dreams and aspirations. Some writings declare a desire to explore the world, to visit places the writer has never seen before. Other writers want to jump off waterfalls—hopefully into a beautiful ocean—and run marathons. However, there are those who don’t take it quite as seriously, marking “I want to meet Daniel #Damn”—a byproduct of the anonymity promised by the project’s accessibility to the public.

Alita Campbell, the Entertainment Chair at Students Events and Activities Council, is the brains behind the operation. Inspired by similar public projects in major cities like Chicago and New York, Campbell feels like this project spices up the usual SEAC events that often consist of movie nights and arts and crafts—but wants to reassure that this is by no means an art exhibit.
“Similar to anything that SEAC does, it’s just an opportunity to bring the SU community together in a social environment outside of academics, so that’s kind of our mission for everything we do; to provide a space for students away from the highs and lows of being a college student, so this in particular is a new spin on something we’re doing,” Campbell said.

With anonymity, comes a certain amount of responsibility and trust to students, as some examples already show a potential for abuse with responses such as “I want a smoothie and immediate death.”

Sophomore Annie Davis likes the idea, but doesn’t think she’ll make the pilgrimage to the Bistro to share her dreams.

“I think it is a good idea in theory that could bring us closer together as a community, but it could be made into a joke,” Davis said, “The hope would be that everyone is mature enough to make it into a good thing.”

Be warned, the board won’t be there permanently. Sponsored by SEAC, it was put up March 2, and is coming down on March 12. While this may seem like just a brief project, Campbell plans to bring the board back on SEAC’s biggest day of the year, the annual Quadstock music festival in May. Campbell hopes that students will write on it as part of the Union Green activities.

“We wanted to do a project, something that was more long term,” Campbell said. “I think the end goal is to really inspire people, to have people interact with others who they might not have interacted with before.”

Sara Dove, a junior English literature and humanities for teaching double-major, is enthusiastic about the chalkboard and what it means, but also thinks that it is yet another a disappointing reminder of just how non-interactive our generation has become.

“It will show a fascinating paradox in our generation: they are creative and would support a question board because it would enable random students to connect and engage with one another,” Dove said, “But these same people walk into the Bistro and think that all the tables are full if there is even just one person at each table. I think the board is a fantastic idea—it would enliven the space in just a small way.”

Despite it not being an art exhibit, it raises questions and makes a comment much like any other art piece would. Students who wish to share their hopes and dreams are encouraged to do so, in the hopes of building a more interactive, cohesive community. Whatever the case may be, SEAC has now asked a question to Seattle U, will you simply sit there and look at the board? Or will you get up and share something about yourself?

Scott may be reached at sjohnson@su-spectator.com

Scott Johnson is a senior Film Studies and Journalism double major. You can follow him on Twitter @scott7893 and find more of his reviews at RagingFilm.com


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