College seeks student suggestions for new LA 100 book

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The college is looking for student book suggestions for the mandated incoming student LA 100 course after freshmen complained about a lack of diversity training in the course last year. 

Jenna Martin, new student program coordinator, sent an email to students Feb. 17 asking for student feedback for picking a new book for the LA 100 course. 

This fall’s LA 100 book was “35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say That Widen the Diversity Gap” by Maura Cullen, who often speaks on campuses about diversity issues. 

“The book helped me answer the questions, ‘Is this a racist comment or not?’ ‘Is this thing I’m doing racist or rude against a specific minority?’” freshman Kauaii Canada said. 

Cullen recently spoke at the college at a Black History Month convocation titled, “Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: 10 Skills to Increase Your Diversity Competence.” Her lecture discussed statements people often make in an effort to be supportive or complimentary — but are actually problematic and end up creating a larger divide. 

“I loved that book,” Canada said. “What I enjoyed most about the book is how it reassured me that micro-aggressions I had heard were actually micro-aggressions and taught me when I was just being dramatic, in a sense.” 

Each incoming Franklin College student is required to take LA 100, which is offered during fall semesters. It is partly designed for traditional freshman students to help guide them through their first semester of college learning at Franklin College, but transfer students are also required to take the course to receive a Franklin College diploma. 

The course largely centers around the Franklin College values and mission and also teaches students some lessons that they can take with them as they leave college. 

The reach for student suggestions this time around comes after a town hall-style meeting between students and college faculty and staff late last May, including key administrators like college President Thomas Minar. 

The meeting was called after a student was suspended over inappropriate, racist Snapchats that included the faces of some of the college’s black students. 

Students at the meeting — including some of those whose faces were shown in the Snapchats — stood up and voiced that they thought these situations could be avoided in the future if Franklin College students were given more diversity training in the LA 100 course when they first get to campus. 

The goal of the LA 100 books, which are picked each semester, is to set the stage and immerse new students into the liberal arts experience by integrating critical thinking and civil discussion into their first year experience, according to Martin’s email. 

The deadline for Fall 2018 book suggestions by students was Tuesday. Martin said the new book is expected to be chosen and announced early this month.

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