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Books, Inq., a blog by former Philadelphia Inquirer books editor Frank Wilson, points to an interesting post last week by Michele L. Simms, who’s taught at the University of Michigan and University of Rochester. She’s now teaching at Howard University and Prince George’s Community College, and she’s noticing a difference between reading habits at her previous employers and at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs):
While I am far more tolerant of my students in the community college who are less likely to read a short story I assign since the majority of the students are at the college because they have not proven to be high academic achievers, I am intolerant of my students at Howard University, who are supposed to represent our communities’ best and brightest. Like so many blacks in my generation, Howard University has been positioned as the Harvard of the HBCUs. Although it may be somewhat conceivable for a white student to matriculate and graduate from Harvard without reading, I don’t have a Black friend who graduated from Harvard without reading. In fact, all of my friends and colleagues who are Harvard alumni are avid readers. I know that the majority of my students at Howard would not last one semester at Harvard without reassessing their commitment to reading, attending classes, studying, and improving their writing skills.