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Common Reading

May 2018

Dear First-Year Student:

On behalf of President Stuart Rabinowitz and the entire Hofstra community, greetings, and welcome to Hofstra University. You are about to join a vibrant, engaged, diverse community, with opportunities ranging from clubs, concerts, and athletics to internships and all the cultural events the New York metropolitan area has to offer. First and foremost, however, we are an academic community. At Hofstra, not only will you pursue subjects that already interest you, but our faculty will also spark your interests in new directions.

We use our summer New Student Orientation program as an opportunity to give you a taste of the kind of excitement you will experience this fall in a Hofstra classroom. To that end, we are asking all first-year students to read the Class of 2022 Common Reading: Driver's License (2015) by Meredith Castile. When you come for orientation this summer, you will participate in a "model class" discussion of the book, together with about 20 of your peers and a Hofstra faculty member.

Driver's License is one book among a collection, called Object Lessons , about the hidden lives of seemingly ordinary objects. In the early chapters of the book, Ms. Castile explains how this small document we hold in our wallet evolved from proof of one's ownership of a vehicle to become proof of so much more (e.g., one's age, driving aptitude, citizenship). As is the case for many objects that hold such value, attempts at forgery evolved over time, and Ms. Castile illustrates how advancements in technology, art, and sheer creativity have kept the dance going between the forgers, and the forgery-catchers. The second half of the book, which will serve as the main foundation for your model class discussion at New Student Orientation, explores the role that the driver's license has played in the disenfranchisement of underrepresented populations. From voter suppression to hindering one's ability to commute for work, the driver's license has, at times, left an ugly mark on American history. Is a similar pattern true for other nations? What will become of the driver's license in the future, when humans are no longer needed behind the wheel?

To get started, visit the Common Reading website: hofstra.edu/commonreading. There, you can view video clips of Hofstra faculty and students talking about the book, and I encourage you to share your own thoughts about the book. I also encourage you to enter the essay contest, which you can read more about on the Common Reading website.

If you have questions about the Common Reading or about New Student Orientation, please call (516) 463-4874 or send an e-mail to orientation[at]hofstra.edu.

I look forward to meeting you this fall.

Gail M. Simmons, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs