Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 3, 1996

The MSE Symposium:
Talkin' About
My Generation

Generation X:
Douglas Coupland
coined the term,
and Jeff Shalom and
David Capece hope
to define it.

Leslie Rice
News and Information

Author Douglas Coupland first used the phrase Generation X to describe all Americans born after President John F. Kennedy's assassination and before the end of disco. Yet it is a generation of people that has remained something of a puzzle for the media and advertising industries, which want desperately to know them.

This year, the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, "Defining Generation X," will shed some light on the culture of this group and attempt to come closer to defining the inscrutable generation.

Throughout September and October, prominent speakers will visit the Homewood campus to explore issues and events that are shaping the minds of Generation Xers. Addressing topics such as AIDS, racism, global warming and the telecommunications explosion will be Robert F. Kennedy Jr., super-model Tyra Banks, gold medal diver Greg Louganis, best-selling author Tom Clancy, MTV news journalist Alison Stewart, former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu, radio's Love Phones host Judy Kuriansky and Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the university's board of trustees and CEO of Bloomberg Financial Markets.

The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium was established in 1967 by Hopkins' undergraduate student council to honor the university's eighth president.

Every year since then, a team of two to three students chosen by the student council has arranged and managed all aspects of the series, which is free to the public. Usually about six prominent figures are booked to address a current national issue.

Covering topics like the nuclear arms race, human sexuality, freedom of the press, and foreign policy and race, the symposium has offered speakers such as Aaron Copland, Kurt Vonnegut, Carl Bernstein, former senators George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy, Pat Robinson and Isaac Asimov.

Organizing the 1996 symposium has been a full-time job for co-chairs Jeff Shalom and David Capece: endless fund raising, scheduling, working with agents to book speakers and a lot of cross-your-fingers and waiting.

"It's been really stressful, but fun, and definitely challenging to get all these speakers," Capece said. "But in the end we're pleased how things turned out. Especially because some people in the beginning didn't think the subject matter was serious enough, and we were forced to really defend our theme. But now that people have seen our finalized schedule, the feedback has been great."

The two fraternity brothers began brainstorming ideas for the symposium last fall.

"The idea of Generation X seemed perfect because it's broad enough that we can attract a wide variety of speakers to target specific issues," Shalom said. "There are a lot of stereotypes about us--that we're a bunch of slackers and whiners and we don't care about much. Some of it is true but a lot of it isn't. This symposium will address some important issues we are dealing with and hopefully serve as a motivator."

The MSE Symposium
1996 Schedule

"Defining Generation X" is a series of lectures on issues facing the so-called "twenty-somethings." All lectures and screenings are free and open to the public and will take place in Shriver Hall on the Homewood campus.

Monday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m.
Allison Stewart, news reporter for MTV.

Wednesday, Sept. 11, 8 p.m.
Town Meeting
Addresses the question, Should marijuana be legalized?

Thursday, Sept. 19, 8 p.m.
Olympic gold medalist and AIDS activist Greg Louganis.

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.
Eric Liu, former speechwriter for President Clinton and founder of The Next Progressive.

Thursday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m.
Actress and supermodel Tyra Banks.

Thursday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m.
Author Tom Clancy on "Generation X in the Post Cold-War Era."

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., professor of environmental law.

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m.
Sex psychologist and host of Z100's "Love Phones."

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m.
Michael Bloomberg, founder and CEO of Bloomberg Financial Markets.

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