Business students organize events for credit 

Anyone who has ever organized a big event knows it takes planning, creativity, diplomacy and smarts. Management professor Kathleen Boies uses that in her teaching.

She gets the students in MANA 447 to “make something happen that wouldn’t happen without your initiative.” The students usually rise to the occasion, and when they don’t, they admit it and learn from it.

Students organized a soccer tournament as an exercise in management. Magnifying glass

Students organized a soccer tournament as an exercise in management.

Boies has a keen interest in volunteer work. When she and Marylčne Gagné created this course last year, they steered the students towards organizing events to benefit their community.

Some knew about working collectively for non-profit causes; others didn’t. Some of the male students wanted to organize poker tournaments and did little until the deadline loomed. Then they discovered that there are laws about gambling to raise money, and had to come up with more viable projects in a hurry.

One team planned a night at the Comedy Nest, with the proceeds going to AIDS orphans in Africa. They had 100 tickets to sell, half the capacity of the comedy club, donated by the management.

There were snags, although ultimately, they pulled it off. They thought they would be able to sell tickets on campus, but that’s not allowed. (If it were, students would be bombarded with sales pitches.) Instead, they sold the tickets through friends. They didn’t sell them all, but they got cash donations that made up the difference.

They would have liked to tell the audience more about the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program, which was going to disburse the money, but they didn’t have time, and in any case, only half the audience had bought tickets from them. Never mind, they made $1,300 for the orphans.

A few teams chose projects driven by the enthusiasm of one of their members. One team did the fundraising for the 50th anniversary gala of AIESEC Canada, the international youth business organization. Raising money for a fancy dinner didn’t exactly tug at the heartstrings, so cash donations were few. However, the students lowered their financial expectations and raised a lot of services in kind.

A Stingers football player got his team to conduct a nutrition campaign. They distributed a survey at Le Gym, the university’s downtown health club, and felt their efforts were successful at raising awareness. Another team conducted a campaign to “Power It Off” — turn lights off in unused classrooms around campus.

One team made up mainly of international students passionate about soccer organized a three-on-three indoor tournament called the Culture Cup. They raised sponsors to cover their expenses, recruited players and referees, and kept the focus on diversity despite the keen competitive spirit.

All the teams learned to form alliances with businesses that could provide a little sponsorship, organizations like the International Students Soccer Association and Sustainable Concordia, or key staff members like Vladimir Pavlicik (Recreation/Athletics), Owen Moran (Health Services) and Yves Gilbert (Facilities Management).

Best of all, many of these projects undertaken simply as course requirements are turning into enduring interests.

Two teams that conducted food and clothing blitzes for the Salvation Army want to repeat them. A project to organize a central website for the university’s 150 student clubs was slow getting off the ground just because the need is so great, but the organizers of are determined to build the site and hand it on after they graduate.

Boies was delighted with their efforts. “I was very touched by what the students were able to accomplish within the time constraints that they had,” she said. “It's amazing what they can do if we let them explore and create projects that are close to their hearts. ”


Concordia University