All freshmen are required to attend a few events for their QU101 classes, but professor Dave Clarke’s class is planning its own community event.
“I was looking for something different, something other than the written exercise,” Clarke said. “I wanted something that the class could accomplish and feel like they can get something out of it.”
Clarke’s students have spent at least the last month planning a charity event as a big chunk of their final grade. “Halloween Bash” is a multifaceted event that includes a costume contest, concession sales and a raffle at the Quinnipiac women’s soccer game this Sunday. Clarke is also the head women’s soccer coach.
The class chose to donate all proceeds from the event to the Children’s Center of Hamden, a private nonprofit agency dedicated to providing treatment and education to children and families with “emotional, behavioral, psychological and social problems, psychiatric illness, learning disabilities, substance abuse, and family trauma,” according to its website.
“This project, in many ways, is about community,” Clarke said. “Twenty-three students working together, 23 students planning an event, 23 students getting to know the Quinnipiac community and 23 students doing something for the greater good.”
Clarke gave his class little direction for the event, other than it had to involve the last women’s soccer game of the season and have some greater cause that kept in line with the goals of QU101 and community.
The students created their own leadership structure, starting by appointing Mary Corrado as event leader. All students split up into four committees: Planners, Activities, Advertising, and Food & Donations.
“I personally have gotten so much out of this while helping the community,” Corrado said. “I’m realizing so much work goes into planning just a little event and that’s something that’s important in life. A paper is something you just want to get done and over with as a student, but this is something we’re all looking forward to and it will be fun for everyone; it’s not just a letter grade.”
After listening to comments from his players over the past few years, Clarke wanted to make his class more interactive, to get students more involved than just writing papers, he said. Clarke’s goal was to advise the class and provide guidance, but not specifically answer all questions to allow students to search for solutions outside of the classroom.
“Coach Clarke is saying, ‘I am mandating you to come to a soccer game, played by your peers, and then, given the spirit of the course, what can we do for the surrounding community?’ That is brilliant,” QU101 Seminar Coordinator Timothy Dansdill said.
During professor orientation, Dansdill said to teachers, “I need you to cover this stuff – but there is still room in the course for you to put your own spin on it.” Professor Clarke is exploring that freedom by interpreting what ‘local community’ means, Dansdill said.
“I am all for experimentation with the course,” Dansdill said. “As long as there’s a balance between the enactment of real life, practical notion of being in the community, and the much, much needed – with your generation – practice in reading and writing and practical reasoning.”
Clarke’s class still reads and analyzes many of the stories in the QU101 textbook, “The Individual and the Community,” but has focused more on arranging this event than other written assignments.
“I like planning this event because it actually applies to real life,” said Daniel Joseph Depaolo, an active member of Clarke’s class. “You actually go out and do something in the community instead of just talking about it.”
Christian Gonzalez, a student in a different section of QU101, said he would prefer a long-term class project like the Halloween Bash, as opposed to conventional assignments and essays.
“I think it’s a lot harder to plan an event than to write a paper,” Gonzalez said. “With papers, you just have to write a reflection on them, but with an event you actually have to take initiative. With a paper you’re constricted, but with the event you’re limitless.”
The class was awarded a $250 grant through the Quinnipiac Department of Community Service, which will be used to buy food that will be sold as concessions.
The class members tried to make use of the direct Quinnipiac and Hamden communities. They approached local businesses to donate food and prizes for the event, and they chose a charity to donate the proceeds to that was inside their own community.
The event is at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday on the Soccer Field. The Bobcats kick off against Fairleigh Dickinson at 1 p.m.