This year Lehigh’s summer reading committee is setting up campus-wide voting, closing tonight at 7 p.m., to choose two books for the next first-year book selection. The two complementary titles will come from the theme of technology and the digital world.
The decision to make the selection process determined by a campus-wide vote, is something that is new this year. Emily Shreve, a co-chair on the committee and a graduate assistant in the Office of First Year Experience, joined the group this year.
“We wanted to get more excitement and interest around the summer reading program,” Shreve said.
In the past the books have been oriented solely for first-year students, but now it will be campus wide.
“Even if people don’t actually read the books, we want to increase awareness, and hopefully involvement,” Shreve said.
Shreve explained how the summer reading book is used to provide a shared intellectual experience for only first-year students and serve as an introduction to college level topics. With the new voting system, the university community will hopefully be invested in the program and become more excited about it. Shreve welcomes ideas and feedback both positive and negative in order to keep improving the process and making everyone more involved.
Samantha Randall, ’18, a member of the committee, joined the group to read and talk about books she would not have found otherwise. As a first-year, Randall cannot compare the two book selection processes but was optimistic about the new voting process.
“I would think that the rate of current students, faculty, and staff who read the summer reading books is much smaller because it’s not required of them,” she said.
Randall suggested that everyone on campus read the chosen books to give the campus a shared experience and conversation topic.
A required summer book for first year students is good for allowing students to get into the mindset of college reading, Randall said. It also provides a common topic of conversation “during that first week of awkwardness.”
Randall added, “I am an advocate for the benefits of furthering one’s reading pool and I think the required summer reading books are a good way of helping that.”
Committee member Shelby Fabian, ’17, said before joining the committee she thought the book selection process was random.
“In reality, there’s probably about 20-30 of us between faculty, staff, grad students and undergrads who go through probably 15-20 topics and then over 50 books before we actually get to the vote,” she said.
Once the committee narrows down the choices, the campus wide voting begins.
“The committee does its best to choose a book that is not only relatable but also one that drives discussions about topics that students may not encounter on a daily basis,” Fabian said. She said the book topics have many viewpoints, themes and issues.
Book options are chosen with students’ best interests in mind. Fabian said the point of a summer reading book for first year students is for them to start thinking in new ways and for students to have something to relate to with incoming classmates.
“Lehigh students come from a vast range of different backgrounds, environments, cultures, so giving all of the students something to have in common and something for everyone to discuss is a vital aspect to the orientation process,” Fabian said.
Lehigh has brought some of the summer reading book authors to campus for lectures and meet and greets.
“It’s a process that comes full circle and I really appreciate the opportunity that Lehigh gives us in that aspect,” Fabian said.
The voting link is: http://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/summer-reading. The book winners will be announced soon after the voting closes through a Lehigh Announcement.
Note: the summer reading committee has extended the voting deadline to Friday at 5 p.m.