Banned books on campus


Bellevue College is participating in Banned Books Week, a nationwide event. Nicole Longpré, librarian at Bellevue College’s Library Media Center, said, “If you go to almost any library right now across the nation, (public libraries, college libraries, school libraries)you’ll likely find the display of banned books. We want to bring attention to the fact that [the banning of books] is still happening. People are still complaining about books having offensive content and not being appropriate, so the more we get the word out, the more people are aware that this is happening and it’s not right.”

“Libraries committed to providing a wide array of points of view are critical to a pluralistic democracy,” said Mark Storey, philosophy teacher at BC.

BC has not chosen to ban any books. “There are a couple of books on display that have been banned by local school districts, whether recently or in the past, more commonly,” Longpré explained, “but Bellevue College has not.”

“College libraries are the very place where a diverse array of ideas need to be housed,” Storey said. “No one need read or look at them, but if we—as free, rational adults—are not aware of the many crazy or offensive things others have to say, we’ll undercut our ability to make public stands for what’s right. […] We need access to such materials so that they can—when called upon to do so—understand what others are saying and challenge them cogently when appropriate.”
“In the winter quarter Social Philosophy class, we analyze and assess arguments for ‘protecting’ people from materials that merely offend them (as opposed to harming them), as well as arguments claiming that a pluralistic society like today’s USA needs a high degree of liberty of access to a wide variety of ideas,” Storey said.

Longpré continued: “It’s much more common to see book banning happen in the high schools. By the time you get to college that’s part of learning, it’s to explore all sorts of ideas and opinions. Banning books would make that very difficult.”
Longpré explained that the banned books event is to promote “awareness of how there are still challenges to intellectual freedom, and college is a big part of pursuing your own intellectual pathway.”

Lee Buxton, communications teacher at BC, said, “It is one thing to decide you do not want your children to read a particular book, it is [another thing] altogether to decide for someone else what they can or cannot read. That [is the] little issue of freedom of speech.” She added, “Since I am teaching communications studies, it is helpful for students to look at these issues that cause conflicts in our culture: underlying values, attitudes and beliefs that are inherent in our language and culture. […] Reading allows us to visit vicariously experiences, worlds, times and landscapes that we would never live in our real time.”