Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What’s up with Universities and Ehrenreich?

Last year Ashland University’s "Introduction to University Life" program solicited suggestions from the faculty regarding books that might be profitably assigned to all first-year students and used as a basis for class discussions. I think I suggested Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, hardly a conservative book. In any case, does anyone think there’s a shortage of important, substantive books out there with which to challenge students?

Well, it turns out that IUL decided to go with Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been using it as "expected" (meaning required) reading for a few years now, much to the consternation of North Carolina’s conservative state legislature. Now I’ve learned that my alma mater, Ohio University, has adopted the book as part of its Common Reading Project. Perhaps there are other schools doing this as well; if so, I’d like to hear about it.

So what’s going on here? Are faculty members making these decisions unaware of the huge menu of important and challenging works available on a variety of subjects? Why are these schools so set on using a third-rate book as a means of introducing 18-year-olds to the rigors of university life? Is "Nickel and Dimed" now to be considered one of the Great Books?

Discussions - 3 Comments

I have a side-gig as an adjunct faculty member at a small Catholic all women’s college and that is the book the administration has required the young ladies to read. It really is taken as gospel by lots of people.

Just preparing students for those "nickel and dime" tuition increases.

I was quite surprised that Loyola Marymount University in L.A. also required it for incoming freshmen.

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