QU 101 fails to stimulate

Christine Burroni

As all 1,620 freshmen started classes at Quinnipiac University this year, we all had the same question in mind: What exactly is this QU101 course that we’re required to take? It sounds interesting and it’s definitely something new to us, but what is it?

We all remember the seminar about QU 101 at our orientations with the esteemed Timothy Dansdill, associate professor of english. He spoke profoundly about the course, what it entailed, the professors who taught it and that we would get something out of it. According to him, this course means more than just another grade. Oh yeah, then he mentioned the 222 pages that we were required to read of President Barack Obama’s memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” It was at that moment that the morale in the room decreased and no one wanted to believe we actually had summer reading.

Reluctantly, I finished the reading, weeks before I came to school. My book is filled with pink and yellow highlighted lines, notes in the margin, and other annotations; just like I was told to do. The funny thing is that I came to learn that this class is “anti-doing” what you’re supposed to do.

Finishing my first week of this mysterious class, there is still a question in my mind as to what this class actually entails. The meaningless and ambiguous discussions that fill the room for the 50 minutes I am in there are not only strange but also frustrating. If there is some method behind the madness here, clearly I am not getting it.

I know for a fact that I am not the only confused one because when looking around my classroom, the other students’ faces are filled with the same amount of confusion and frustration. Sporadically, the awkward silence will break and a few students will bravely raise their hands. I commend my classmates for doing so in trying to contribute to the seemingly meaningless discussion. The frustrating thing about contributing to this disorganized banter is that every statement is answered by a question. Why do you think that? How does that happen? Why do we have to listen to authority? The latter is my favorite. That is essentially what QU 101 consists of, thinking about what we can do as “individuals in the community.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for self-awareness and independence, but we are in a classroom environment. Where is the structure? Where is the organization?

The source of my confusion is clearly shown in the very first assignment we were given- a paper discussing our summer reading along with other readings from the textbook. The prompt clearly states the length and structure – surprisingly – of the paper. However, for the last three classes, my professor has asked us to go against the prompt, making the paper our own length, and picking our own due date. OK, that’s cool. What is not so cool about it, however, is that my class has had this discussion for a week now, backtracking, going in circles and just getting more confused. I don’t understand. The prompt says six pages, so I will write six pages. What’s the big deal? Why do I need to question the prompt? Why do I have to be as “anti-establishment” as my professor?

As students, we are taught to obey authority and comply with the rules of assignments. Basically, do what you’re told. The freshman class has entered the vast world of college with that mindset, and obviously it hasn’t done us wrong. So why stop now? I should not argue with what I’m told to do to succeed, if anything I need to abide by it. If I do what I am told in an academic environment, obviously I will do well.

I am not saying that I am unable to think for myself, after all, I am an “individual in the community” right? Nor am I saying that it’s wrong to wonder and try and see the big picture. I just don’t see why we have to question what we’re told to do, and follow that up by a meaningless discussion. I understand the fact that we are independent and we are now adults, but does that mean that I am less insightful or less intelligent if I do what I’m told? Is being uncooperative the new way to learn? Unfortunately, that’s what QU 101 is trying to portray, but “individually” I think we know the right way to think.