Celebrities’ visits educate students

Entertainment meets academia as celebrities make guest appearances at various colleges and universities with the help of MTV’s sister channel mtvU and a new reality show, “Stand In.”

The show surprises classroom students with celebrity guests who then lecture the class on topics of the stars’ choice and give students the opportunity to ask questions and comment on the discussion.

The show, which only airs on mtvU, a channel broadcast in cafeterias, dormitories and student centers on approximately 730 college campuses, began broadcasting in January 2004. Since its first episode, celebrities like Jesse Jackson, Bill Gates, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg have made appearances.

The series has quickly become one of the most popular shows on MTV Networks.

“It brings the class to life in a way that few would ever imagine,” said Stephen Friedman, mtvU’s general manager, in an interview with the Associated Press.

The appearances also aid celebrities. For some, they offer an ego boost in a controlled environment of fans. For others, the appearances allow celebrities to promote a pet cause. This was the case for Cameron Diaz when she met with a civil engineering class at Stanford University to discuss building designs that protect the environment.

“I was expecting like 10 kids to show up,” Diaz told the Associated Press. “It’s exciting. A few kids came up afterward and said, ‘This is so great, this is something I’ll remember.’ Hopefully, it’s something they’ll be thinking about when they are sitting down trying to create.”

And while St. John’s has not yet had an episode of “Stand In” filmed on campus, the students on the Queens campus have not been left out in the recent surge of celebrity campus visits.

On Oct. 6, Ruthie and Veronica, of MTV’s “Real World” and “Road Rules” respectively, appeared as part of a discussion about alcohol abuse sponsored by the Student Programming Board.

The MTV reality-show stars visited with students to discuss issues that plague today’s college students.

“I feel like I am at somewhat of a platform to spread the word on issues,” Veronica said. “And besides that, it’s just a lot of fun.”

Ruthie agreed, adding, “I really like talking about the different social issues and making a difference.”

Many of the MTV reality show stars achieve celebrity status after their appearances on the popular network. Because of their popularity with college-age students, they have the potential to make the younger audience listen to what they have to say.