Banned Books Week reaches OSU campus

Madilyn Sturges Multimedia Contributor

Banned Books Week has arrived at Oregon State University. Students can find a stage and mic outside of Strand Agricultural Hall ready for anyone to share a chapter or two of their favorite banned book. The week began Monday, continued Tuesday and will wrap up Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event was organized by Susan Rodgers, associate professor of creative writing, and Zac Laugheed, Valley Library staff member. Rodgers decided to bring Banned Books Week to OSU after she arrived.

“There’s never been a Banned Books event to my knowledge,” Rodgers said. “When I talked to the Corvallis Gazette Times reporter the other day, he didn’t remember any event [like Banned Books Week] in Corvallis, ever.”

Some of the more famous banned books include John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, Stephen Chobsky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” and even Dr. Seuss’ “Hop On Pop”.

Although Rodgers began organizing the event alone, she was soon joined by Laugheed, who decided to help her organize the week because of what it symbolizes.

“I think it allows us a platform to do something about what we can talk about,” Laugheed said, “To say ‘you can’t do this— this is important, and we’re here!’”

This event is a chance to spread awareness that books are being banned, and people need to stand up for literature, according to Rodgers.

“It’s an opportunity to educate people that this is happening out there; that there are efforts towards censorship,” Rodgers said.

This year’s Banned Book Week is the first for OSU, but Rodgers hopes it will not be the last. She hopes it becomes more of a community celebration that the people of Corvallis will want to take part in.

“Often these books that are challenged or banned are retained by libraries from school districts,” Rodgers said. “So even though the people in the community might challenge a book, the librarians are heroes.”

Many of the banned books are banned based on discrimination against race, religion, gender and sexual preference. Rodgers notes that these books need to be protected and fellow readers should stand together and defend their favorite books.

“A lot of books by writers from diverse communities are banned or challenged, not just racial minorities but also cultural, religious and ethnic groups,” Rodgers said. “Now we’re getting a lot more books that are challenged from the LGBTQ community, so it’s a lot of that we have to protect.”

Even OSU staff members stopped by and read a chapter or two of their favorite banned book, including Jennifer Richter, Master of Fine Arts poetry faculty member. She was surprised that books even were banned.

“It’s ridiculous,” Richter said. “There are so many that I didn’t know, especially young children’s books like ‘Hop On Pop’, that I didn’t even know were banned.”

Richter read from “Alice in Wonderland”, not just because Alice is such a famous literary character, but because the book holds significance to her and her children.

“It appealed to them when they were five and appeals to every single person walking by,” Richter said. “That’s the great thing about [‘Alice in Wonderland’], it appeals to a such a wide range of people.”

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