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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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University cancels freshman summer reading program

Updated: July 27, 2015 at 3:37 p.m.

Summer reading is no longer mandatory for incoming freshmen.

The University’s “First Chapter” program, which assigned one book for all freshmen to read before moving on campus in August, has been discontinued after nearly a decade, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt confirmed in an email. He said students’ interest in the books have lagged in the past few years.

“The First Chapter program was conceived as a way to unify the entire freshman class around reading, writing and discussion assignments,” Hiatt said. “In recent years, participation in activities around the book selected has been relatively light.”

The University launched the reading program in 2006 as a way for students to bond in the first weeks of freshman year, according to a 2011 University release. All students received a free copy of that year’s book at Colonial Inauguration.

The reading program’s books were never required reading for freshmen, but some classes used the book as supplemental material. Last year, one University Writing class centered its curriculum on the reading.

Participation in the program’s essay writing competition had dropped off in recent years. 2010 saw nearly 200 essay submissions, but that number dropped to 58 in 2011.

Hiatt added that the University will “continue to have many opportunities for students to read, reflect and write — including a required first-year writing experience.”

Last year’s selected novel, “The Good Food Revolution” by Will Allen, which chronicled Allen’s journey to create an urban farming system, sparked a research essay competition and a lecture in Lisner Auditorium given by Allen.

College summer reading programs have gained traction nationally over the past few years, with university officials beefing up their curriculum related to the book and often inviting the author to campus to discuss his or her work. While critics complain of a lack of fiction and classic texts being included on the lists, more colleges are encouraging their faculty to become more involved with teaching the book.

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