Office for Religious Life apologizes for MemChu acoustics

Posted by at 3:45PM

I’m not sure exactly who received it, but I just received an email from Scotty McLennan, Dean of Religious Life from the Office for Religious Life. Here’s the body of it for anyone who didn’t get it:

The Office for Religious Life apologizes for the poor acoustics that we know affected many people’s experience of the Dalai Lama’s Rathbun Lecture in Memorial Church last Thursday, October 14, 2010. Our intention to debut a new state-of-the-art sound system did not yield the results we desired. To this end, we wanted each of you to know that the fully intelligible video is now available on-line at: http://dalailama.stanford.edu/webcast/rathbun.html. The video will also be available to view and download at Stanford on iTunes U ; and the Stanford Channel on YouTube within the next week. While this is the current consolation we can offer, we are also producing DVD’s to be available to all registered ticket recipients within the next few weeks. When they are ready for pick-up, we will e-mail you again with detailed instructions.

Thank you for joining us at “Harry’s Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life” last week. We hope to see you at a future program, at which time we expect to have greatly improved acoustics.

For those of you who weren’t there, the acoustics were pretty awful. Were you sitting in the back of MemChu, you could really only hear the echoing of sounds from the front. Everyone was sitting there, giving each other sidelong glances and trying to stay perfectly still as even someone scratching their brow felt so amplified. Talking to a few people afterwards, they had the same thought that the Dalai Lama wasn’t even speaking English because it was so incomprehensible. Maybe 10 minutes into the Dalai Lama’s short planned remarks, something kicked in to make the rest of it better, but even so, it was a little tricky to hear. That I appreciated.

Unfortunately, I’m also going to whine and say it was a little too late. As I just said, the Dalai Lama had few prepared remarks, and the part I could hear wasn’t very meaningful because I had no context for it. I was told that this would be one of the most meaningful things I would ever hear, yet the only thing I remember is that he was talking about compassion in a good way. And he was clearly the inspiration for Yoda.

Given that, I’m glad the apology was sent out, and I’m satisfied with it. Watching the recording isn’t quite the same, but knowing I was there to have the remarks directed to me and getting the content later is good enough. It’s too bad that this was the event that they discovered this problem at, but I’m glad they apologized.

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