LSFY reading falls short

Each year, as the first year students prepare to enter into Augustana’s community, they are required to read a book for their LSFY 101 courses. The idea is to bring a sense of community and common ground for all students. Although the idea has good intentions, Augie Reads is unable to foster a strong connection for the first year students.
One reason as to why Augie Reads is unsuccessful in creating a strong community is the various ways LSFY professors use the book in their lesson plans. Some professors use the book as a prompt for additional papers or tests while other professors barely use the book as a topic of discussion. If all classes had a similar set up, then the goal of creating a community would be more understandable and attainable. Since all classes are different, no true sense of unity can be achieved.
Even as the LSFY courses fail to utilize the book in a unified way, the Fall Connection provides a discussion panel and class discussions that also try to promote the desired unity. Just as the LSFY classes fail, the Fall Connection activities based on Augie Reads also fail in promoting a common ground or community for students. The students are ushered through the connection events where they are given a full schedule of different activities and lectures. Some students may become close to those in their peer mentor groups, but it is not due to the fact that they have read a similar book. The entire experience of Fall Connection fosters that sense of unity, not Augie Reads.
Some books, including the one for my first year, are terrible choices. The seniors on campus were required to read Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It. If you have never heard of the book, I suggest not reading it. The only bonding time that came from that book was during a bonfire where we had a “burn party.” The 2013 Augie Reads book, Never Let Me Go, seems like a much better choice with themes of psychology, relationships, ethics and science. Hopefully this book proved to expand the thinking of first years: that is, if the students read the book and if the professors included the book in their lessons.
If a class feels they are closer due to the Augie Reads book, that is fantastic. But it still does not foster any sense of community for the whole incoming class of first years. As first years soon find out, it is easy to become connected with students on campus. The Augie Reads does not create this connection. The idea that a book can be the “initiation” into college is a waste of time.