First Year Matters

July 6, 2017

Dear New Wesleyan Students,

We are writing to give you your very first homework assignment from Wesleyan (no groans allowed!)  Each year Wesleyan’s “First Year Matters” (FYM) program provides new students with a common experience and introduction to intellectual life at Wesleyan.  The FYM Committee has selected Citizen: An American Lyric by MacArthur Genius grant-winning poet Claudia Rankine as your common reading. Dr. Rankine, who delivered the commencement address at Wesleyan this past May, will return to campus during orientation on Friday, September 1. 

Some of you may already be familiar with this book of prose, poetry and images that won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, among other accolades.  Described by the New York Review of Books as, “a circuitous and intimate descent into the poet’s past in order to examine race in America,” Citizen challenges readers to question their own assumptions about race, identity and civic belonging.  We are enthusiastic about introducing Rankine’s work to a wider segment of the Wesleyan community and look forward to the important discussions we will have about these issues during orientation and throughout the coming academic year.

You will be able to access your copy of the e-book via Amazon whispercast. You will receive information about creating an account and accessing your copy of the book via your Wesleyan email within the next 24 hours.

As you read the text, prepare yourself to further explore this important topic by crafting your written response. The FYM Response is designed as a tool for you to begin articulating your opinions, beliefs and take aways from the common reading. Your responses will also be made available to the faculty and student leaders that will be leading group sessions during orientation. The submission deadline for the FYM Responses is 5pm on Tuesday, August 15.

You will need to complete the reading and response before arriving to campus, so you are fully prepared to engage the material being discussed during the faculty overview and during the subsequent breakout sessions with student leaders.

If you any questions, please contact the Summer Interns via or 860-685-5666.

We hope that you enjoy this summer reading, and we very much look forward to welcoming you to campus at the end of August.  We’re thrilled that you’ll be joining this wonderful community!



Joyce Jacobsen
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dean Mike Whaley
Vice President for Student Affairs