Common book connects campus newcomers
Baldwin City, Kan. — Soon after Baker University’s new students arrived for the fall semester, they had one thing in common: They will have read Warren St. John’s “Outcasts United” by Warren St. John.
During summer orientation at the Baldwin City campus, all freshmen were presented a free a copy of the New York Times bestseller and received their first college assignment to read the book as part of a common reading program. The students will discuss the book in freshman salons, where they learn college success skills and reflect on their values, decision making and being part of a scholarly community.
“It is a great inaugural book,” said Cassy Bailey, dean of students at Baker. “We plan to make it an annual event.”
Baker is among 40 colleges and universities that selected the book as required reading. The book focuses on a refugee soccer team, a female coach and a small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement.
“We wanted to build a sense of community and oneness by having the entire freshman class and all the campus newcomers read the book,” Bailey said. “The parents were excited about it during orientation. The campus is a place of education. We have an expectation for them to read the book and heighten their academic awareness. “There’s a commonality of having the read it. The book speaks on issues of community and diversity. I think everyone can read the book and say, ‘I can imagine that and put myself in their place.’”
On Oct. 8, St. John will be at Baker’s Rice Auditorium to discuss the book from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., followed by a book signing. The Baldwin community is encouraged to read “Outcasts United” and attend the event at Rice.
“I do encourage everyone to read it,” Bailey said. “My 13-year-old read it and 70-year-old father-in-law read it. I can’t think of many other books that can reach that wide of audience.”
Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.