What I didn’t learn in QU101

Ruth Onyirimba

The title pretty much says it all – there are some key aspects of life that I wish were highlighted in my QU 101 class that simply… weren’t. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

The matters that we discussed in QU 101 are both relevant and important.
To many, this seems obvious – my class and many others often discussed the prevalence of racism, homophobia, religious discrimination, and different moral and ethical dilemmas that people face on a daily basis. However, after class, we carried on with our day without thinking twice, let alone feeling compelled to make changes. After asking myself why, I came to a conclusion: many of us don’t realize that racism, homophobia and similar issues can all be found – in decent volumes – right here at Quinnipiac.

Yes, you can make a difference – as an individual – to change your community for the better.
Consider the snow, for example – each snowflake that falls, one after another, is small, graceful and delicate. However, together they were able to cover the entire campus, take us out of school for days at a time and bring unfortunate students to their knees (or their backsides, depending on which way they slipped and fell). Such is true about the individual in the community. Some of the issues we discussed were deemed irreparable, and so many times, we would examine them, but swiftly turn around and chalk them up to “humanity” or “mankind” or “society” – things that are seemingly too mighty to change. But maybe, just maybe, changes aren’t being made because we’ve decided that our individual actions wouldn’t make a difference. But, like the snow, each small action can make a large and noticeable difference over short periods of time.

It’s great to read against the grain, but living against the grain may be more beneficial.
In QU 101 – as well as English 101, if I remember correctly – we were constantly being asked to “read against the grain,” or take on a view that does not agree with the view of a given author or the general public. Unfortunately, this idea of thinking against the grain isn’t carried any further than the assignments we hand in. As much as we hate to admit it, many of us seem to be caught up in the fear of being “too different” from our peers, even if it means refusing to take a stand for something that is right. In all fairness, many students do care profoundly about the world we live in; many of those same students, however, will refuse to take action to avoid sounding like an idiot. But in spite of what others may say, we must remember that many of the significant changes that occurred in history were led by people who had no time to worry about other people thought of them.

Although these are all things that QU 101 aspired to teach students, the truth of the matter is that there are certain things that can’t be taught in classrooms, regardless of how well-structured the curriculum may be. QU 101 may have been meant to make us more aware of our communities, but it can’t give us an inert motivation to actually make changes – from what I’ve learned over the years, only experiences can teach you that, whether you learn from them or not. Fortunately, we have the ability to take matters into our own hands. I urge you, dear reader, to contemplate these things. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make a difference this week?” As corny and idealistic as it sounds, I believe that this very question has encouraged people to change the world.