In the wake of a successful fraternity-themed QU201 section, a sorority-themed section of the class is in the works. QU201 Seminar Coordinator Raymond Foery and a committee will meet today to further discuss the proposed course.
Sororities were notified of the possibility over winter break, with an e-mail explaining the premise of the course. If the course is approved, the earliest it will be offered is next spring, Foery said.
Because the fraternity course was successful, Foery suspects a sorority section would also be successful.
But Foery fears an evolution that would place certain majors or audiences together: “It was never intended for specific classes for specific audiences,” he said. Such arrangements would detract from the point of the seminar: taking a subject of one’s interest and stepping outside of their comfort zone.
Junior political science major Mary Simeoli approached Courtney McKenna, assistant director of the student center and campus life, about starting such a course last fall. Simeoli, president of Alpha Delta Pi, has since been researching and helping develop readings for the course.
“Greek organizations are constantly being labeled by faculty, our peers and of course the media,” Simeoli said. “I want members of the Greek community to challenge themselves to live our values, to learn about the history of the organizations they are a part of and to gain a new perspective of the future for Greek organizations by examining our past.”
According to Simeoli, the course would be held once a week and would feature a variety of guest speakers in addition to lectures and discussions. Simeoli would like the course to be open to every member of the campus community, rather than be exclusive to sorority members. This way, she hopes students interested in joining a Greek organization will have the opportunity to learn about the sorority’s organization and history.
The basis of the course would be to explore the role women’s fraternal groups have played throughout history in the context of the feminist and women’s rights movements and the roles different Greek Councils have had in the history of women’s organizations. McKenna, the Greek life advisor, would teach the course. Simeoli would act as an assistant facilitator.
With this as a starting place, Simeoli hopes to create a similarly-themed QU301 course with a community service project that brings the values of the Greek community into the local community as the central focus.
“Having a course like this would give members of the Greek community the opportunity to start building stronger relationships with Quinnipiac faculty and also show this drive for social excellence means so much more than the stereotypes and projections that seem to constantly outweigh the community service, philanthropy events and campus involvement that are also a huge part of our community,” Simeoli said.
Junior public relations major Caitlin Fischer, president of Alpha Chi Omega, said a sorority-themed QU201 course would be a great way to focus on community.
“The Greek community is growing here at Quinnipiac, and why not embrace that?” Fischer said. “We can’t hide from the facts. Sororities have many positive aspects to teach women.”
This semester is the second time a fraternity-themed QU201 course is being taught. The class, titled “Fraternal Organization in American History,” was held as an experiment during the spring 2010 semester and was taught by political science professor Seán Duffy.
“The course was just as rigorous, if not more, to ensure no one came away with the idea the section isn’t serious,” Foery said.
Junior public relations major Alex Forman, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, was a member of the first fraternity-themed QU201 class.
Forman registered for the class, which consisted of 19 members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, because of the unique academic opportunity it offered.
“The fact that we all knew each other before the class started immediately cut through any of the tension that is usually dreaded in QU seminar classes,” Forman said. “We were able to have in depth and honest discussions about American society as we saw it.”
The students learned about the history of fraternal organizations in America. The class also focused on the idea of the existence of a national community. The class created a charity basketball tournament and clothing drive to donate athletic gear to a struggling youth basketball program in South Africa.
Forman found the class to be one of the best he has taken so far at Quinnipiac.
“All of the class members agreed that we had exemplified what the QU seminar program set out to do–creating a forum for honest discussions and critical thinking of the world around us,” Forman said. “There were no awkward silences or forced discussions, and even though we had the common bond of being a fraternity it was very clear that we all had different backgrounds and opinions of the national community.”
This semester, Duffy is teaching the class again to members of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
“I would love to see similar sections open up,” Forman said. “It’s an easy way to keep the bonds strong in organizations and to keep students involved in the course.”