Arts and Culture Editor
Many students remember the One Book, One Campus program from freshman orientation when they were just beginning their time here at Millersville. Now, no matter class standing, all students are able to participate in an even larger campus discussion through the program. The “One Book” will no longer be required as summer reading for first year students, but introduced in the fall as an invitation for all students to engage with peers in difficult, but necessary, conversations.
The book chosen for the new two-year pilot program is All American Boys written by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds. Issues like race relations and police brutality are discussed in this young adult novel. In light of current events, within our nation and our Millersville community, senior English education student Marcus Wardle pushed for this book to be chosen for the One Book, One Campus program. Wardle was dedicated to giving this book the exposure it deserves.
There will be reading groups with different themes to help facilitate students’ thoughts and conversations. The co-chair of the program, Michele Santamaria, will hold a group regarding American identity, Dr. Pfannenstiel’s group having a technological focus, and Dr. Gates’ group will discuss the educators in the novel. These groups will be held twice a semester; meeting times and dates are to be announced.
Since the novel deals with such substantial topics, the committee believed that two years would be needed to do the issues justice. Also, by choosing a young adult novel, students will find the book easier to understand, therefore, allowing them to dive deeper into the larger themes that need to be examined. Wardle states that the issues the characters deal with in the book are “very real with morally gray areas,” leaving a lot of room for conversation. He believes the novel provides an in for our mostly white, conservative campus to discuss a problem that would otherwise be ignored.
The One Book, One Campus program is a way to blend academics and daily life while making the topics exhibited in the novel more human. Santamaria believes that this book will provide a safe way to facilitate difficult discussions. She hopes the book “becomes more of a common read for the whole campus and community.”
The committee for the program hopes to bring both authors of All American Boys to campus and hold a “read-over” where students can attend a discussion of the book before the authors visit. One Book, One Campus had a table at Organization Outbreak for the first time this fall, where students who identified themselves as readers showed interest in reading the book and joining the communal conversation. There is a blog available for One Book, One Campus at Millersville where students can check for updates on meeting dates and times as well as other information on the program.