Campus Community Book Project promotes diversity and awareness through books

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Campus Community Book Project was developed to spread diversity and encourage conversation among students, faculty and the surrounding community. A book is selected each year and events that correspond to the reading are planned to coincide with the theme of the book.

The project is a sector of the Office of Campus Community Relations. The office hopes to promote diversity and inclusiveness on campus, as well as within the community.

There are two committees involved in the book project: a selection committee to select multiple book possibilities, and a planning committee to plan corresponding events after the book has been chosen. The selection committee goes through a strenuous selection process to select books. To reach a consensus in time, they begin in the summer and have all the events planned by fall quarter.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson was selected this year. The selection focuses on the migration of millions of African-Americans from the South to the North.

Though the topics can seem weighty, many who participate in the program believe it to be a worthwhile experience.

“The most important objective of the Campus Community Book Project is to engage the campus community in dialogue about issues related to diversity and cross-cultural issues,” said Mikael Villalobos, chair of the program and administrator of Diversity Education with the Office of Campus Community Relations.

The project aims to overcome adversity and promote multiculturalism by having participants talk openly and honestly about race and culture. To ignite this dialogue, the planning committee has created a variety of events to engage people of all backgrounds.

“There are art exhibits, library exhibits, films — many different ways to get involved and join in on the discussion. It’s a way for everyone to be on the same page and discuss certain things and just learn from each other,” said Samantha Huynh, fourth-year history and political science double major.

There are a number of students who attend because the book is being used in their class. According to Villalobos, they gain an entirely different perspective from attending the events that correspond with the book.

“The program brings together subgroups who may not see themselves as having something in common. It cuts across all of the different groups, can be integrated as material for students, is a springboard for diversity of the campus and reaches out to people in the community,” said Cynthia Goldberg, a member of the planning committee.

In an effort to involve the whole community, all the events are available to the public and almost all of them are free. Moreover, the events do not only take place on the UC Davis campus, but there are programs planned at Davis Senior High School and in Sacramento.

Villalobos said that to get involved people just need to attend the events.

The Campus Community Book Project will have two more events this month, on Oct. 24

from noon to 1 p.m. at Lecture Hall 1222 at the UC Davis Health System in Sacramento, as well
as another on Oct. 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Underground Bookstore in Sacramento.

A full list of upcoming events can be found at the Office of Campus Community Relations website or on their Facebook page.

SASHA COTTERELL can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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