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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students wary of book ban

    UA professors and students are expressing concerns about a new bill that could give students the power to make alterations to a teacher’s required reading list – based on their personal beliefs.

    Roger Bowen, a UA professor of English who teaches modern British literature and poetry, said he has only had one student object to a reading assignment since he began teaching at UA, but his classes regularly have readings that some students could find offensive.

    “”There was only one occasion about 12 years ago,”” Bowen said. “”The student was offended by a book on the list because of its strong homosexual themes and alluded to her faith.””

    Bowen said the student dropped the class and did not ask for an alternate assignment or take the issue any further. He said if she had requested an alternate reading, he would have “”told her that was not possible”” and that he “”did not allow alternate readings.””

    But Senate Bill 1331, if passed, would force Arizona’s professors to provide alternative readings if students were offended by materials. This is something Bowen says he hopes will not happen.

    “”These things pop up from time to time in Phoenix, and they usually die away,”” Bowen said. “”Common sense usually prevails, and I hope it does this time.””

    Valerie Gandara, a classics junior, said she also didn’t think students should be able to make alterations to a professor’s reading list.

    “”If a professor thinks (a book) is what will work for their class, then the students should read it,”” Gandara said.

    Jordan Williams, a physiology senior, said he has objected in the past to elements of his teachers’ lesson plans, but he was bothered more by the teachers’ insertion of political views into the lessons than the texts themselves.

    Williams said he was generally in favor of the legislation, but did express concerns that it could lead to book-banning if worded too broadly.

    “”Initially, I thought it should be an option for students to request new books,”” Williams said. “”But it becomes a real slippery slope when you start deciding who finds what (books) objectionable.””

    Williams said he felt books that might offend a student could have educational value, but if a book was pornographic, then “”the material is definitely not educational.””

    Lee Sechrest, an emeritus professor in psychology, said the bill undermines the entire purpose of the university educational experience.

    “”I don’t think that’s what a university education is all about,”” Sechrest said. “”If a student can pick their own learning materials, then they don’t need to be here.””

    Sechrest said he thinks students should (and do) have the right to ask professors if they are willing to make changes to reading lists, but he would not honor a student’s request for alternative materials in his classes.

    “”I’d say fine. I don’t like a lot of things I have to read either, but I read them,”” Sechrest said. “”I’d tell them to do the assignment or find another class.””

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