Reading Into Diversity Issues: Join Our Virtual Book Club
Created by DEI Program Manager Meghan Jordan, the book club will “serve as a safe space to not only discuss literature,” she says, “but issues of race, equity and social justice, as well."
Calling all bookworms! Utica College’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is inviting UC alumni to join the conversation as part of DEI’s newly formed virtual book club. Created by DEI Program Manager Meghan Jordan, the book club will “serve as a safe space to not only discuss literature,” she says, “but issues of race, equity and social justice, as well." We talked with Meghan to learn more.
What motivated you to start this book club?
My background is in British Literature, and I taught as a faculty member for a number of years before coming to UC, so starting a book club seemed like a pretty natural tradition for me to continue on campus. I think reading and discussing literature brings people together and can highlight pressing contemporary or historical issues in ways that may seem "safer" or easier to talk about.
What can alumni expect if they join?
Unlike a more traditional book club, I want this club to be fairly flexible and informal. Participants can join a discussion, even if they haven't started or finished the book, and they can join at any time. I've been sending resources and guided questions to anyone who registers so that participants have some more information as they read to focus their attention. Anyone can join too! Community members, as well as alumni, students, faculty, and staff are all welcome. While we often think of reading as a private act, a book club allows participants to create a meaningful shared experience of reading, much as one would have in a classroom - only this is a classroom where there are no expectations and no grades.
The first book selection is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. What made you choose this novel?
I wanted to pick texts that spoke to a range of different identities, and indigenous issues have such a rich, tragic history here in the Mohawk Valley. The Round House is about a woman who is sexually assaulted on a reservation, but because of tribal law, her assailant cannot be prosecuted. This is a timely issue, and one most people don’t know much about. I am always happy to read "outside my comfort zone," so I hope this pick encourages others to do the same. For me, this means reading something that may make me uncomfortable or bring me to tears, but will ultimately expand my ability to relate to others and understand an issue from someone else's perspective.
What do you hope participants take away from this experience?
I hope participants take away a sense of community and camaraderie. I hope people make new friends, and I hope our discussions continue long after we've finished reading. I also hope that participants continue to read these authors and expand their home libraries and teaching archives. And I hope they'll come back next year!
To learn more about the Utica College DEI book club or to join virtually, visit: utica.edu/diversity/dei-book-club
—Leah Easton '24
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