Out of 98 first-years sampled, only 56 students read the required reading

Courtesy of Baruch Admissions

Courtesy of Baruch Admissions

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

This year’s incoming freshman text was Family Life by Akhil Sharma, an autobiographical novel in which a boy and his family immigrate to United States from India and have to adjust to their new surroundings.

Each year, the incoming class of students are assigned a reading that will be discussed at convocation and in their first-year seminar classes. The author of the text attends convocation and speaks to the group about the book and its background.

According to a previous article from The Ticker, the first-year texts are decided upon by a committee within the school, and “factors such as the story’s teachings, the complexity of the text and the characters themselves are all considered when a selection is made.”

The goal of the freshman text is to connect all of the first-year students, as explained on the “New Student and Family Programs” page of Baruch’s website. 

All incoming freshmen are different, coming from different schools and hometowns, with different interests. Something that is synonymous between all of them is that — in theory — they all read the book.

But is this goal actually being fulfilled? Not to the extent that the Division of Student Affairs would like it to be.

That’s because there’s a large percentage of students that opt to not read the required reading.

In fact, the results of a print survey distributed at random during convocation on August 26 found that only 56 students out 100 sampled actually read the book, either in part or in whole. 

Another 42 sampled freshmen admitted to not reading the book. The remaining two surveys were unable to be found at the time of counting. It is important to remember, however, that this survey was not exhaustive and does not reflect the numbers of the entire class.

A second Ticker survey, this one an online Google Forms survey, was published with the intent of collecting responses from students to two questions: why they chose to either read or not read the book, and what their opinions of the novel were.

The overall consensus among students who read the book was that they did so because it was required.

“I read it because a) had to, b) as it turns out quite interesting and informative,” freshman Tshetrim Lhendup said.

However, a few freshmen shared their reasoning for not reading the text, such as Tina Sehgal.

“It was summer, so I decided to enjoy my time before a stressful school year,” she said.

Many students who took the survey indicated that they liked the novel, for some the reason being that they related to it personally.

“It was enjoyable as it was quite easy to relate to it as my parents are also immigrants,” said student Jason Lin. “The expectations placed on me as a child of an immigrant was quite similar to the book as I was also pushed to do the best that I can.”

On the other hand, some students had some trouble relating to Sharma’s story. 

“I enjoyed the book, wasn’t that relatable but I still felt that I could’ve connected with the author,” Christopher Alvarez said. “Seeing the author in person was nice and he did give out a great speech as well.”

Other students, though, did not enjoy the book, like incoming freshman Oleksandra Kurbanova.

“Book for disappointing (sic). Main character just kept talking about his own struggle without getting to any sort of reallocation or growth,” she said. “Author was absolutely irrelevant, with his speech consisting of one chapter of his book (what’s the point of the speech if we supposedly already read it). He seemed extremely arrogant and [then] he compares himself to Hemingway is laughable.” 

While some students really liked the reading and some really didn’t like it, there were others who were a little more lukewarm about it, not loving it but also not hating it.

“It was alright, but pretty typical for a school text,” said Kyle Richards. “Wasn’t revolutionary or eye-opening or anything of the sort. The author sort of just repeated a lot of stuff from the book, but he was enjoyable nonetheless.”