A private comprehensive liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, UT, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in liberal arts and professional programs. Website

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a copy of the common read text?

  • The book is provided free of charge to all incoming first-year students. It is mailed from the START Center in early August to the home address of incoming students. After that first mailing, students who do not yet have the book may secure a copy at the START Center, whose staff may be reached at 801-832-2280. Discussion leaders also receive a copy of the book. Other interested parties may purchase a copy of the book at the college bookstore.

I have read the book this summer and wonder, how does this whole thing work?

  • It’s quite simple: you get a copy of the book, read it carefully, make notes about what interests you, and show up to orientation with Tortilla Curtain ready to talk. Students with specific questions about the book or the common read experience may contact Gary Daynes, Associate Provost (801-832-2812) or Diane VanderPol, Library Director (801-832-2270) with questions.

Will we be tested or graded on this material?

  • Although you are entering college, you will not be tested on the reading. College offers students an opportunity to develop new interests and explore intellectual pursuits that are personally meaningful outside the context of a class and a test. The common read offers students a chance to get a head start on developing that approach to learning.  Nevertheless, you can expect professors to refer to the text in some classes during the course of the year.

Should I bring my copy of the common read text with me to orientation?

  • Yes! You will refer to it during discussion and most groups will read from Tortilla Curtain. If you forget your copy of the text, the bookstore will have extra copies for purchase.

Who will be in my discussion group with me? Can I request that a fellow incoming Westminster student join my group?

  • Common read discussion group assignments will be made by the orientation staff. You will learn of your assignment at orientation. Students may not request being assigned with friends: the common read is about reaching out across differences and learning new things as a result of the varied perspectives of people you are meeting for the first time.

Should I take notes while reading? 

  • All good readers make notes about their reading experience, often in the texts themselves. Feel free to mark up your text (you own it!) and jot some notes, questions, or answers to the discussion questions and bring them with you.

I received my letter containing the common read discussion questions but lost them: where can I get another copy of the questions?

  • You can download a copy of the discussion questions from this site. Bring them with you to orientation.

My parents swiped my copy of the common read and now they want to join the discussion: what do I tell them?

  • Discussion of the common read will occur in the context of first-year student orientation and therefore is not an event that allows for the participation of parents. Nevertheless, there may be plans in the future to hold a separate parents’ discussion around the common read, if there’s interest. Also, students whose parents have read the book should take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the book with their parents.

 I’m not a first-year student: how do I participate?

  • Upper-class and transfer students may volunteer as discussion leaders, as long as they are available to participate in orientation activities on Tuesday, August 25. Students may also purchase a copy of the text at the bookstore and 1) attend related events on campus throughout the year; 2) bring up the book when relevant in a class you are taking; 3) write an essay on the book and deliver it at the college’s annual undergraduate research fair; 4) hold a formal discussion with other students who have read the book; 5) join the theme committee and help select next year’s common read; 6) work with ASWC or another student group to design and host programming related to the annual theme or common read.