All matriculating first-year students will receive a copy of the book from the university when they attend their two-day “see blue.” U Orientation over the summer. Before returning to campus in the fall, they’ll read it and complete a brief assignment in preparation for K-Week 2015, the new student transition and welcome week held just before classes begin. During K-Week, they’ll meet with other new students and upperclassmen serving as Peer Leaders to discuss Picking Cotton.
An initiative of UK’s New Student and Family Programs, Student Affairs, and Undergraduate Education offices, the CRE is meant to introduce new students to scholarly discourse and composition; to provide new classmates with a shared intellectual experience; and to engage the entire UK community around timely and relevant topics through yearlong programming on campus.
Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, the university will hold events related to the book and its themes and topics: racial dynamics, sexual assault, criminal justice in the U.S., guilt and innocence, memory, and forgiveness.
The University of Kentucky realizes the immediate relevance of these topics for students embarking on their college experience just now in the United States; the university also recognizes that issues like sexual assault and racial dynamics must be approached with great sensitivity. The university has taken care to notify readers that the book may be an emotional trigger for some, especially for survivors of sexual assault. Wherever appropriate, students participating in the CRE are entitled to academic accommodations or alternatives.
Though the book’s complex topics and themes present some challenges for a diverse campus community, this year’s CRE also represents an opportunity for the university to emphasize its policies regarding sexual misconduct, mandatory reporting by UK affiliates, and racial discrimination, harassment, or bias, as well as valuable campus resources like the Counseling Center, the Office for Institutional Diversity, the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity, and the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center.
University President Eli Capilouto writes about this, shares information about related resources available on campus, around Central Kentucky, and nationwide, and expresses the importance of the Common Reading Experience to the UK community, in his compelling welcome letter to the newest class of Kentucky Wildcats. Click on the thumbnail at right to read the letter.
The University of Kentucky is one of fourteen schools that have adopted Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption for a common reading program. For more information about the book and about authors, speakers, and activists Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, click here and visit The Innocence Project.
Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages