March 5, 2012
As a commuter campus, UCCS has a bustling student population that can complicate any prospect of unity.
Regardless of the challenge this may present, a committee assembles each year in hopes of sparking a common discussion and interest through literature.
This April, a committee of faculty and staff will choose one of these five finalists to be the next All Campus Read book: “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” “The Thing Around Your Neck,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” “Enrique’s Journey” or “Just Like Us.”
All Campus Read programs are typical in most universities. Although anyone on campus is welcome to participate in reading the chosen novel, the freshman seminars are more likely to be the main participants.
“It introduces students to reading in college,” said Kirsten Ortega, assistant professor of English. She mentioned that it allows students to engage in a critical thinking process.
Ortega participated in a similar program when she was a student at NYU. She read the controversial “Angels in America” by Tony Kushner.
“It sparked conversations even in the dorms. Everyone I am friends with who entered that year has all read it,” said Ortega.
Chris Bell, director of the Center for Excellence and Communication, said it provides the students with an opportunity to read something outside of textbooks. He mentioned that it also allows the students to apply their academics to something outside of class.
While journalists wrote the last three choices, all five novels focus on global multiculturalism, which is the theme for this year’s All Campus Read.
Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” tells of the Dominican-American experience in New Jersey, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Thing Around Your Neck” is a series of short stories that depicts Nigerian immigrants and the people in Nigeria.
The other choices are similarly concerned with people and their personal stories. Rebecca Skloolt’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is the tale of a black woman from a poor family whose stem cells were used without her knowledge.
Meanwhile, Sonia Nazario’s “Enrique’s Journey” chronicles Enrique, an illegal immigrant who fled from Honduras in search of his mother; Helen Thorpe’s “Just Like Us” describes children being brought into the country illegally by their parents.
Leslie Manning, a former dean of the library, proposed the idea of All Campus Read to the Dean’s Council.
According to Peg Bacon, provost, the program first started out with Plato’s version of Socrates’ “Apology” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” and “No Impact Man” by Colin Beavan have been the program’s last two choices.
Christina Martinez, head of User Services at Kraemer Library, hopes that the program serves to exposing students to what they haven’t been exposed to previously.
“The most important thing is to give particularly incoming students something in common that they share.”