Week 8, Part I: at the Union

Thursday March 3, I skipped the King’s yoga session.

But I had a valid excuse for missing the opportunity to improve my mental and physical health:  Jerry Springer was speaking at the Cambridge Union Society, and I was excited to hear what he had to say.  I shook a few friends by the shoulders, chanting “Union?  Jerry Springer?  Union?” in hopes that someone would accompany me on the long trek of about 5 minutes to get to the Union (ok, long only in Cambridge terms).

Finally, after many eyes being rolled in my direction (after all, there was a pub quiz on that night–who would even think to miss that for a speech?), a spontaneous decision by a friend was made, and the two of us made our way to the Union.  Luckily, we were early, and got fantastic seats, able to detect every crease and every smirk on Jerry Springer’s face).

It was a good talk, though maybe because his political philosophy matched mine, and that of just about every Cambridge student in the audience.  It’s easy to appreciate views with which you agree, especially when the speaker presents them well.  Nonetheless, I found the evening a perfect mix of serious politics and comedic discussion.

Friday, March 4 found the Union in a quite different state.  While I was happily distracted by an International Students’ Formal at St. John’s, a crowd had assembled outside the building in which I had sat just the previous night, to protest the activities within–namely, the talk by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a misogynist in every sense of the word.  Though I definitely disapprove of any disruption of his speech that might have occurred (which would be a disruption of free speech, and would only provide fodder for pro-DSK anti-protesters), I think the protest itself was justified.

A few days later, the commotion quieted down; the Union had accumulated fame and controversy, hurt feelings began to mend, and arguments slowly petered out.

Monday, March 12 at the Union, the first event of the Chocolate Society took place–a tasting during which I consumed double my weight in delicious chocolate, immediately following a talk by Dr Venki Ramakrishnan about the merits of curiosity research.

Somehow, despite his interesting presentation, it was the chocolate that made Monday night memorable.

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