ESC READS: Collegewide Common Read Event to be Hosted at StAC 2016

By Sophia Mavrogiannis, director of academic support, SUNY Empire State College

August 25, 2016

ESC ReadsAs the fall term approaches so, too, does the Student Academic Conference (StAC). This year, the conference will include SUNY Empire State College’s first ever collegewide "common read”— ESC Reads. The inaugural book (selected by a committee of faculty, staff and students) is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.

So what exactly is a common read? 

The concept of a collegewide common read is not new. In fact, colleges and universities have been hosting common read for decades. These programs generally aim to provide students from different backgrounds with a common intellectual experience, encourage them to think about ‘the big issues’ and connect the entire college community across disciplines and roles.

Where did we get the idea to start one?

After a successful mini-pilot in Buffalo, NY last year, StAC seemed like the next logical step in bringing this opportunity to a larger audience and connecting it more explicitly to collegewide student academic life. StAC has long been a place where SUNY Empire students from across the state and globe come together to share ideas, network and have fun. This, along with the robust schedule of presentations and the social activities happening at StAC, make it the ideal place to host a student-moderated panel discussion of the selected book during one of the conference’s concurrent sessions as well as an informal book discussion after dinner Friday evening.

Sounds great! Tell me more about the book!

Between the World and Me, hailed as “required reading” by Toni Morrison, is a timely work of creative nonfiction that blends historical analysis, cultural criticism and memoir to examine the ways racism structures American life. Written in the form of letters to Coates’s son, it attempts to answer (according to the book jacket), the following questions: “What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves of its burden?”

How can I participate?

Read the book and join us for discussions at StAC and later in the fall! A limited number of free books are available to students; however; books also can be purchased through online book retailers and at bookstores nationwide, or borrowed through local libraries.

For those college community members who need alternative access to print materials due to a diagosed sensory, learning or medical disability, the Office of Collegewide Disability Services is able to make an electronic version of this book available to beused with assistive technology.  For more information, please contact Alternative.Text@escedu.

Complete this form for a chance to win a free book!


For those in the campus community unable to attend StAC, a similar follow-up collegewide event will be held later in the fall, hosted in real time—with the opportunity for students to participate virtually (following the models of events like the Town Halls and the student forums).

Happy Reading, and hope to see you at one of our events!

For more information and to register for the 2016 StAC go to

Did You Know

Registration for the Fall 1 Term closes on September 5 and classes begin on September 12.  

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