Students, faculty merge to chat ‘n’ chew

Andy McDonough

A dozen Quinnipiac students ventured into the faculty dining room last Wednesday to converse over a meal with assistant professor of English Timothy Dansdill.

Part-time faculty member Jonathan Rounds joined Dansdill and Rounds played his guitar as Dansdill sang.

At least one of the students present had spent time with Dansdill in the classroom. “I had Timothy for a professor,” said John Langley, a junior media production major. “That’s pretty much the entire reason for coming to this dinner.”

Other students were enticed to attend by their interest in the program title: “iPod, My God: Whatever Happened to the Tradition of Individual Talent?” The session with Dansdill was one of five similar sessions held last week between students and professors.

After arranging tables and passing out poems and songs, Dansdill dove into discussion. He began the conversation emphasizing a concern that students at Quinnipiac rely too much upon pre-packaged entertainment such as iPods.

Dansdill wondered aloud if students at Quinnipiac play guitars in their dorm rooms the way that he and his classmates did during his college years. He expressed hope that such “lyric life” exists at Quinnipiac. “We can’t be afraid to raise our voices on the page or on the stage,” Dansdill said.

The group then delved into the effect that technology has on art, such as the television show “American Idol,” where contestants vie for a record contract.

To ensure a loose environment, Dansdill and Rounds led the group in song and poetry. Later, Dansdill broke into singing “La Bamba.”

Students smiled constantly and often laughed. Conversation then delved into the need to create an artistic tradition at Quinnipiac. “That used to be an honored tradition, to make art,” Dansdill said.

The dinner concluded after about an hour-and-a-half of discussion.

In an interview afterwards, Dansdill said he eagerly responded to a call to lead such discussions from Linda Broker, the dean for Academic Services and Research Support.

Dansdill said he wanted to create common ground between students and faculty. “The classroom often prevents a professor from showing his or her humanity,” he said.

He mentioned a desire to help students understand what drives him as a professor. “I just get so excited about language in any form,” he said.

Langley was pleased with Dansdill’s efforts. “The dinner tonight was as insightful as it was entertaining,” Langley said. “I strongly believe the students that attended the dinner witnessed how much one can learn not only from Quinnipiac professors, but from other students.”

Dan Fox, a junior accounting major, expressed an interest in the early discussion about iPods and other “pre-packaged” entertainment. “The key is moderation so you aren’t only exposed to one activity. I admit I’m guilty of wearing my iPod when I walk to class, but I also find it refreshing to take a break to say hello to people I recognize along my pathway or look around once in a while,” he said.

Dansdill simply summed up the 90-minute dinner: “No one should ever be embarrassed to stand up and sing.”