Common Reading Experience to use May 4 related books

Students were assigned to read “Thirteen Seconds” written by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts and “This We Know” written by Carole A. Barbato, Laura L. Davis and Mark F. Seeman.

Autumn Rietzel

In coordination with the 50th anniversary of May 4, 1970 shootings, this year’s First-Year Experience students were assigned two May 4 related books for their common reading assignments.

Students were assigned to read “Thirteen Seconds” written by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts and “This We Know” written by Carole A. Barbato, Laura L. Davis and Mark F. Seeman. 

“This We Know” features a chronology of the events of May 4 written by students who experienced that day. “Thirteen Seconds” also features a chronology, tying it into the event from an outside source.  

“It is interesting to see a perspective on the outside looking in on the event as well and that is super important,” freshman political science major Alexis Patton said. “I feel the interest would be more drawn to ‘This We Know’ because it has those people who experienced the event.”

The books are chosen each year by the Common Reading Committee and the Office of Student Success Programs. This year, the committee decided to include other organizations like the May 4 Visitors Center.  

The May 4 focused books allow for new students to have an open dialogue about the tragedy, director of Student Success Programs Yvonna Washington-Greer said.  

“It is one way for students to connect socially, but this is a way for students to connect around a different topic,” she said.  

In 2017 the Student Success Programs planned a three-year rotation of the same book, however because the anniversary of May 4 is coming up in 2020, they decided to end the trial early. 

“It was our hope to do that so that the first year students have something to connect with the second year students and the second year students connect with the third year students,”  Washington-Greer said. “But the May 4 anniversary came up and we were like ‘we have to do something around this.’”

Freshman architecture major Ben Slone said assigning common reading books to students allows for better conversation.

“Books are one of the few things we have that let us express ourselves directly to one another and to another audience,” he said. “Talking one-on-one is one thing, but when you’re talking about books they understand the expression of something I believe in.”

 Autumn Rietzel covers student life. Contact her at [email protected]