Immature Duke Freshmen Refuse To Read Graphic Novels With ‘Mature Themes’
It’s about time for universities across America to welcome their new students. All those bright-eyed young freshmen are surely eager to experience new and challenging ideas, to commune with people from diverse backgrounds, and to become better people through education. Well, most of them are. But a bunch of incoming Freshmen at Duke are reportedly very upset about having been asked to read a graphic novel over summer vacation.
According to The AV Club, several conservative incoming freshmen at Duke Unviersity–a very good school that requires students to have very good academic records and test scores before admittance–are extremely bothered by the fact that the school assigned Alison Bechdel’s award-winning graphic novel Fun Home as summer reading because it includes discussion of homosexuality, sexual situations, and nudity.
The students, who are most likely adults who will be able to vote in the upcoming election, say reading Bechdel’s critically acclaimed, autobiographical graphic novel is against their religion.
“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” said Brian Grasso of the class of 2019, according to The Chronicle. Grasso was bothered by the fact that the school assigned a book which he says is not acceptable to his conservative Christian beliefs and made him feel excluded.
“Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind,” he said. “It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.”
It seems more like Duke does know students like him existed, but also knows that its job is not to just reaffirm its students worldviews for four years and send them out into the world having learned nothing but an appreciation for college basketball.
“I thought to myself, ‘What kind of school am I going to?’” said freshman Elizabeth Snyder-Mounts, who did not realize that she was going to a good school, where she would be challenged and encounter things that were different from what she had seen before.
I’m disappointed by these students. I don’t know what they expected to major in that would allow them to avoid reading things that were not like what they were told in high school. But I’m glad Duke assigned Fun Home as summer reading. It sounds like the university is taking seriously its duty to expose students to things they might not have considered before while living at home with their parents.
Duke says the summer reading list was just a recommendation, and none of the students actually have to read it if they do not want to, but defended the inclusion of Fun Home, saying it is a “unique and moving book that transcends genres and explores issues that students are likely to confront.” At least, they’re issues the students are likely to confront if they actually enroll in classes and do the reading and get their heads out of the sand. But some students at least seem to be doing their best to keep their ears plugged and blinders on for as long as possible.
The students’ refusal to broaden their horizons is disappointing, but the main lesson I am taking from this scandal is that I really need to read Fun Home. Between all the awards it is winning and all the universities teaching classes about it and all the hyper conservatives boycotting it, I am pretty sure this book just jumped to the top of my summer reading list.