The goal of the On the Same Page program is to generate discussion--and sometimes action--around a common theme. Towards that goal we endeavor each year to choose a work that is engaging to students and faculty members from a wide array of backgrounds and tastes. We also want it to be a work that signals something about our values, and the kinds of complex thinking that students can expect to encounter in college. Finally, because we feature the author in a keynote event in the fall, the work must be by a living author. 

Working with all these criteria, a team of faculty members spent the spring and summer of 2016 reading widely, in a quest to come up with the best possible titles for the 2017 program. They selected four works, each of which would have formed the basis for an exciting and thought-provoking On the Same Page program in the fall of 2017. We then made copies of all four works available to over twenty volunteer student reviewers, recruited specifically because their roles bring them into contact with a wide variety of other undergraduates: they are RAs in the residence halls, orientation leaders, ASUC officers, Public Service Center participants and the like. Sixteen of these students submitted scores and written comments on one or more of the works over the fall 2016 term, during which the five Letters & Science deans were also reading all four finalist texts. At the end of the fall the deans took all of the faculty and student responses into account when making the final decision. 

The various faculty and student reviewers voiced an array of reasons for speaking in favor of Hamilton. Dean Jacobsen's reasons are summarized in a short piece he wrote, which also appears on the On the Same Page landing page:

"Our On the Same Page selection this year is the cast album for Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical version of the story of Alexander Hamilton, whose contributions still echo today in government, business, and even in how news is reported. It's told through the eyes of people experiencing the American Revolution as they try to shape it to their own desires from their own perspectives. Besides giving a new spin to history, the musical brings forward questions of enduring importance: the role of individuals in bringing about social and political change;  equality and opportunity in a land shaped by immigrants; the importance of family versus accomplishment; and basic questions about American democracy. The musical itself has shaped political and artistic discussions about what musical theater looks like in the 21st century. Who ever thought we'd see an Oakland rapper playing Thomas Jefferson on Broadway? Or a George Washington who is not white? Why didn't we expect rap as show tunes? Please join us in listening to the show, and watch and read some of the additional materials that appear on the On the Same Page web site, as we explore this deep work and its context together."

Here are some representative quotations from student reviewers:

"It's very entertaining, and I believe would be enjoyed by almost anyone. It's easy to follow, especially if you read the lyrics along with listening to it, and there isn't a single lazy line in the whole thing. I believe that anyone could connect to Hamilton, whatever their background, race, gender, nationality, class, etc. It's clever, engaging, funny, catchy, and heartbreaking."

"The whole point of the musical is that immigrants/flawed people are the cornerstone and the inventors of our democracy, a message that's increasingly important in the current political state of our country."

"It's just such an amazing musical. You can listen to it ten times and pick up on new subtleties every time."

"It's an extraordinary story, told through the lens of flawed, real people, who seek to make a positive difference in the world. More than that, it's our country's genesis, spun in a way that makes our history become alive. I connect so much with the hunger and the inner fire of Alexander Hamilton and with the reserved nature of Aaron Burr, the quiet devotion of Eliza, the spirit of Angelica (in understanding her duty, resenting the oppression of gender norms, and still being oh so powerful in her femininity). The musical connects history with present-day, making it so relevant."