The College Reads! Program Support Statements

I love reading. I am a book person. When I was handed a copy of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien during my freshman orientation, they might as well have handed me a lifeline. I held something familiar in my hands, even though I was embarking on a new journey that had me scared witless. I had a book, I had some guidance of where to begin. I was required to read "The Things They Carried" in my english class first semester and I hated it. I didn't like O'Brien's style of writing and the plot did not seem relevant to me at the time. However, I learned about crafting an intelligent critique, literary analysis, and academic debate. Later on, when I worked orientation myself, I saw how many military veterans chose to attend CofC. It dawned on me that "The Things They Carried," a book about war and its personal repercussions, went beyond my personal understanding of the universe. That is why the College Reads! is so important--not only did it enrich my education from an academic perspective, but it continued to broaden my perspective of the world years later.

Emily A. Rogers '13
College of Charleston Alumni


The College Reads program is an amazing opportunity for students to open their minds, not to condemn their beliefs. College is a time for exploration and to prevent students from learning all that they can is wrong.

Chris Pennebaker '15
College of Charleston Student


College of Charleston Student Government Association

Presented by Deputy Chief of Staff Danielle Stout, Chairperson Brendan Geiling and Senator Emily Torchiana of the College of Charleston Student Government Association

On this Twenty-Fifth Day of February, 2014

Purpose: To express support for the restoration of funds to the College of Charleston budget by the South Carolina legislature for the College Reads program

Whereas: The College Reads program provides a valuable learning experience for all members of the campus community.

Whereas: This program encourages discussion and critical thinking consistent with our strong liberal arts curriculum.

Whereas: The College of Charleston strives to be a diverse and welcoming campus for all people, regardless of their differences.

Whereas: Participation in this program is only encouraged and not required for all students.

Whereas: The College of Charleston has the right to exercise academic freedom and should be able to provide an all-encompassing curriculum to its students.


Section I: The Student Government Association of the College of Charleston calls for the South Carolina General Assembly to restore the $52,000 in funding cut from the budget of the College of Charleston and respect the academic freedom of institutions of higher education.


President Jordan Hensley


I am an RA on campus, and I work in a freshmen residence hall. These students come into the college from extremely diverse backgrounds. It's so important for freshmen to have exposure to controversial topics. I have been up late at night with a resident who was too scared to go into her own bedroom because of the harassment she faced from her roommate. I have heard a personal account from a gender queer student who was aggressively harassed on King Street by another college-aged person. The College Reads! program offers an academic platform for discussion about controversial topics. Without discussion, we are depriving our students of a  crucial part of social education, and we are not providing a safe environment for our LGBTQ students if we exclude that community from the diversity conversation.

Sarah Price
RA - Block on Bull

I am a College of Charleston student. I think that the college reads program is an excellent way for incoming freshman to begin their experience at the College, and I was genuinely upset reading the article in the post and courier regarding the 'controversial' text Fun Home which was assigned to the incoming freshman class of 2013. The College prides itself on being a quality liberal arts institution, and with that title comes the responsibility of accepting and promoting the differences which exist between all of the individuals who make up the student population. It is 2014, and we are living in the United States of America. This sort of backlash is detrimental to the success of our school and our students. The LGBTQ community has made great strides in overcoming their persecution over the last 10 years, but it seems as though the state of South Carolina would like to continue living in the past, in an intolerant world. Bechdel's novel is an amazing tribute not only to the struggles faced by the gay community, but to the struggles faced by adolescents as a collective group. The 'explicit' content is merely her way of expressing what it was like for her to assume her identity as a gay woman, while also dealing with her feelings of isolation, difference, and parental estrangement. College of Charleston should be proud to present their students with a text that fosters such a strong sense of acceptance to those individuals facing the everyday struggles of being 'different' than the norm, and it would be reprehensible to do away with a program which fosters reading, open discussion, and a collective closeness for the incoming freshman students. We, as a college, do not stand for the persecution of our students because of their differences, and thus should not stand for the persecution of the materials we choose to present to them either.

Thank you,

Catherine Mueller


I am a College of Charleston student and wanted to write to you to demonstrate my support for the college reads program. Frankly I am tired of the government getting involved in programs they have no power to get involved in. The government is not allowed to tell people what to read and not read. We are no longer suppose to be living in a theocracy, if the government is going to act like we are then maybe they should re-familiarize themselves with the rules they are actually suppose to be enforcing.

As for the debate on whether the book is "promoting" the gay and lesbian lifestyle. You have got to be kidding me. It saddens me that a group of people who are suppose to be intelligent and able to think critically believe such a ridiculous story. Honestly I bet you they have not even deigned to read the book themselves. I, on the other hand have read the book, and I can assure you that my sexuality was not influenced by it. In my discussions with the freshmen students I teach, all of them found the controversy of the book to be insulting to their intelligence and to the reality of the world we live in. There were no discussions on homosexuality being disgusting or wrong, in fact, there was an open attitude towards whatever sexuality people chose and irritation that in this day and age "old people" are still bothering them with their "close minded beliefs" (not my words, this was the conclusion my class came to). The book offers a different view of homosexuality than the views of what the government tries to shove down our throats. It is not the college that is trying to promote any belief, it is the government.

Regardless of your views of the morality of homosexuality, the book offers freshmen a chance to understand the view of someone who may have a completely different background then themselves. I hope that the government does not get away with blackmailing the college into teaching the dated and irrelevant beliefs of ignorance without any other perspectives. They are only continuing to support policies that make people lose respect for our government system and show that they are out of touch with the people they should be representing. Our government should be an advocate for learning not a bully. Our country will never become strong again with such repressive stances.

Blake Wright


This statement is in response to the recent disagreements with the College Reads Program over their past year's choice of Fun Home. As a College of Charlston student, I felt it was appropriate. Further, the classroom discussion reached a level of productivity that reflected the ability of the students to handle the topic at hand. I hope there is enough publicity of this disagreement as to extend the discussion of the classroom into the community, and further the state.

 Tim Lennon


I have been privileged in receiving not just an education at the College of Charleston, but wisdom.  Now, as I am nearing graduation, I have been reflecting on my experiences here and how I have grown as a person. 

Every semester since my enrollment at the College, I have noticed major changes in myself and in my beliefs. I have been able to connect many different topics from all of my courses into real-world situations. This has allowed me to find solutions to issues I would not have been able to conquer before. Growth is a wonderful thing, it is the process by which we move forward as individuals and as a species. Growth is hard. Sometimes (in the face of conflicting evidence) you have to change the way you think about an issue. In this, we are better able to face the challenges impacting our society. This is quite possibly the most important skill taught in higher education: to question ourselves and our intentions so we can strive to be a better version of ourselves. Knowledge by itself does little for us if it isn't applied. Knowledge applied to life becomes wisdom. 

You can share any knowledge with students that you want, but it's what the students do with the knowledge that is important. Reading Fun Home and other controversial books opens students to views and thoughts that they might not otherwise be exposed to. College is an environment where beliefs SHOULD be questioned. If they aren't then the institution of higher education is not imparting it's students with the tools to succeed in the future. The information is there for all students. In the end it's up to them what they do with it. The College is in no way forcing a belief on students. In fact the main thing college does is question beliefs so that students may think (and find the answers) for themselves. This is the mark of receiving a true education and it would sadden me to see our local government block funds to the College because it was doing it's job. 

In closing, growth can be hard. We may fight it tooth and nail, but it needn't be so. Growth requires change, it require us as human beings, to go inside of ourselves and question our beliefs with the information we receive. If the information is compelling then beliefs can change and evolve, leading to a greater understanding of oneself and one's place in the world. Knowledge is a good thing, even if it's knowledge about issues we don't agree with. Like College of Charleston's seal states, "Sapientia ipsa Libertas." Knowledge itself is Liberty. By cancelling the funding for the College Reads! program, the state is taking away the liberty of those it claims to serve.

Evan Reinhold '14


The College Reads! program is an essential part of the College of Charleston's First Year Experience courses.  As a former classroom facilitator, these books helped initiate important, meaningful dialogue about diversity and college life.  While some of the students may not have agreed with all of the content, they were all excited to participate in conversations about it.  Because of these books, students were exposed to an entirely new perspective and learned how to respectfully discuss their own beliefs and opinions with one another.  This program enriches the students' experiences; to say it does more harm than good is simply false.  I have been in these classrooms.  I have facilitated these discussions.  Taking this program away robs students of an important and empowering opportunity to see the world in a new light.

Anne Marie Martin