Common Book bust: The Common Book program denied funding for next year

Alex HeldrichReporter

Students who have been attending Pierce College since 2012 may be familiar with the Common Book program, but those who started within the past two years have most likely never heard of it.

English professor Beth Stevens is in charge of organizing the program.

“A common book is one which all members of a college community come together around through discussions, events, activities, coursework and outside lecturers,” Stevens said.

This means that an additional book (not a textbook) would be incorporated into all English classes which students would then have to read. Other colleges such as the University of Washington also have a common book that’s introduced into all freshman English classes.

The Common Book program was intended to last for one year, but Stevens decided to continue the program; however, it’s hit roadblocks in the past years. There’ll be no Common Book program for the 2016-2017 school year.

“Unfortunately, the reason that Pierce College’s common book program was denied (was because of the) Services and Activities funding,” Stevens said.

Because Common Book is a district program, the S&A committees from Pierce College Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom campuses met to discuss whether to fund it or not. The program was denied by both committees.

According to an email by Garrido, the reason the program was denied funding was “because the committee agreed that the common book appeared to serve as more of an instructional program rather than a student service.”

Pierce College wasn’t able to support the program’s costs of $7,500, which include buying the materials for the students, hosting the Common Book events on campus and paying an employee to organize the program.

The program has received mixed results from students when it was available.

“It was quite well-received and vibrant in the beginning, but interest has waned over the years,” Stevens said. “It did the best when it had funding through S&A so that we could subsidize the cost of the books for Pierce College students, provide refreshments at book discussions, support enrichment events surrounding the themes of the book and so forth.”

When the Common Book program was being funded by S&A, students had to pay $4 to buy the book, no matter what the original price of the book was, without being subsidized.

Stevens had big plans for the program, had it been funded.

“Essentially, we wanted to make a more robust program with the support of both Student Life and instruction,” Stevens said, “which is what all the national data and best practices of successful Common Book programs show is necessary for a thriving, impactful program.”

Stevens said that she won’t be putting any more energy into trying to get funding for the program during the 2017-2018 school year.

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Common Book bust: The Common Book program denied funding for next year

by Alex Heldrich time to read: 2 min