EDITORIAL: Book forums can attract a larger audience
Every summer, the University selects a book for incoming students to read and then participate in a discussion with the author(s) of that book. In past years, this conversation was only open to the first-year students arriving on campus in the fall, because the event was held before upperclassmen arrived on campus for the fall semester. As a result, the author would only come during what is now known as ’Deis Week.
However, this year, the University delayed the forum and opened the conversation to the entire Brandeis community by pushing the event two weeks into the semester.
This board commends the University on moving the discussion with the author this semester to allow all students rather than solely first years to attend this event, as it provides a unique educational opportunity to the entire campus. Over the past week, the University sent out a series of emails inviting students to the event, which featured author Zadie Smith.
However, while the entire Brandeis community was invited to the discussion on Thursday, there had been no advertisement over the summer that the discusson would be at the start of the semester. Because of this, students who are not first years did not have the opportunity to read the book. In the future, the University should not only include the entire Brandeis community in these discussions, but should also give them information about the book via an email during the summer so that upperclassmen will also have time to read the book.
In order to fix this problem, this board suggests that the book for the forum still be sent out to incoming students, however, upperclassmen should be given notice so that they are able to buy a copy as well. The book should be sold in the campus bookstore and a good number of copies should be available at the library for those interested.
In addition, this board encourages the University to move the talks about the assigned reading to a later date so that all new students have the chance to participate. Although midyear students are unable to be involved in the discussion with the author, the University still sends them the book. Since there is no incentive for midyears to read it, there is a good chance that they will not.
Furthermore, if this discussion was held in January, or if two discussions, one in the fall and another in January, were held, this would allow everyone to have an equal opportunity to fully participate. Midyears have a shorter orientation since classes start much sooner after they arrive, and having the opportunity to have a dialogue with the author would help them feel even more welcomed into the Brandeis community.