Summer reading made mandatory

Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel is giving the Class of 2013 their first college assignment before school even starts.

For the past three years at Colonial Inauguration, Siegel has encouraged, but not required, students to read a book that he recommends and then rewards those who write the best essays about the books with an invitation to dinner at his house. But this year, the summer reading assignment is mandatory.

Siegel said he frequently uses his summer reading recommendations to give students a taste of popular current event themes, but requested that The Hatchet not print the title of this year’s book because he wants to save the announcement for CI.

Last year, Siegel recommended “The Making of the President” by Theodore White, “Soldier’s Heart” by Elizabeth Samet, and “Apollo: Race to the Moon” by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox. In 2007, he recommended “Failing America’s Faithful” by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, and “Human Evolution” by Bernard Wood.

“[This year’s book] is thought provoking and will help the freshman class think about their role in the world,” Siegel said,

The details of how the summer reading choice will be incorporated into the students’ freshman year are still being determined, but Siegel said students should treat it as required.

“I am going to tell them, I expect everyone to read the book,” Siegel said. “I’m not sure that anyone is going to be chased down to find out whether or not they have read it, but at the same time the student might walk into their UW20 and the professor might say, ‘I know you all read this book so I would like you to write a five-page paper on it.’ “

Siegel is discussing the summer reading assignment with various departments in the University including GW Housing, the Guide to Personal Success program and University writing professors to determine what kinds of activities related to the book are most beneficial for the students.

Brian Hamluk, the director of the GPS program, said he is excited for GPS guides to read the book and play a role in this program.

“The summer reading program is a great opportunity for the entire university community to share in the academic experience of our students in some way,” Hamluk said.

He added he felt the guides would be excited to have a “common experience to talk with students about.”

Siegel agreed with Hamluk about the importance of freshmen having a shared experience.

“It is a bonding experience for the entire freshman class,” Siegel said. “It is something that every freshman will have in common.”

Siegel said his annual tradition of inviting the students who write the best essays about the book to his house for dinner will continue.

“I want to hear their opinions and how they felt about the reading and how the reading affected them,” said Siegel about the essay. “They should speak from the heart.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.