College Rejects Student's Petition to Eliminate 4 "Shocking" Graphic Novels from Curriculum Because There Is Good In the World
Book-banning petitions are moving from grade school to college, now, but luckily this most recent one was squashed. Yucaipa, California-based Crafton Hills College declined to remove four graphic novels from the English 250 curriculum taught by Professor Ryan Bartlett after a complaint was issued by a female student, calling the books "shocking." Student Tara Schultz attempted to ban the (highly acclaimed) books Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, and The Sandman: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman.
Thankfully, it seems the leadership at Crafton Hills College is anti-book banning. President of the school Dr. Cheryl Marshall released a statement about the request to remove books from the class:
I support the college’s policy on academic freedom which requires an open learning environment at the college. Students have the opportunity to study controversial issues and arrive at their own conclusions and faculty are to support the student’s right to freedom of inquiry. We want students to learn and grow from their college experiences; sometimes this involves reaffirming one’s values while other times beliefs and perspectives change.
A big round of applause for Dr. Marshall on that one.
Schultz, and the rest of the students in Bartlett's class, were given a syllabus listing the books that would be included in class assignments, and it did include Persepolis, Fun Home, Y:The Last Man, and The Sandman: The Doll's House. However, Schultz doesn't believe the list was enough and she and her fellow students should have been forewarned about sexual content, she told Redlands Daily Facts:
It was shocking. I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within. I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.
(Ironically, the sexual and violent content in many Batman comics has also been questioned.)
Bartlett has taught his class containing these four graphic novels (in addition to many more novels) for three semesters without complaint, he told Redlands Daily Facts:
I chose several highly acclaimed, award-winning graphic novels in my English 250 course not because they are purportedly racy but because each speaks to the struggles of the human condition. The characters in the chosen graphic novels are all struggling with issues of morality, self discovery, heart break, etc. The course in question has also been supported by the faculty, administration and approved by the board.
And the administration is standing by their professor.
"To prepare our students for successful professional lives, we are intentionally trying to engage them in critical dialogues around difficult and contemporary issues, said Dr. Bryan Reece, vice president of instruction, in a statement. "Professor Bartlett is a model example of this approach."