College declines student's request to ban 'Persepolis,' 'Sandman'

Following a student's protest over the contents of the graphic novels required by her English 250 class, Crafton Hills College President Cheryl A. Marshall has issued a statement saying the college will not ban any books or alter the content of the course.

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.  In this specific case, the syllabus distributed on the first day of class contained the list of required reading materials allowing students the opportunity to research the books and make a choice about the class.  The class is one of numerous electives available for completion of the English degree.  We are attempting to avoid this situation in the future and Professor Bartlett has agreed to include a disclaimer on the syllabus in the future so students have a better understanding of the course content.  I know he appreciated the differing views presented by Ms. Shultz in his class.

The controversy arose when Tara Shultz, a 20-year-old attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, was dismayed by the graphic content in four of the graphic novels required by her English 250 course; she and her parents are seeking to have them banned by the administration. Shultz challenged four titles in particular due to the depictions of sex, violence and "obscenities": Marjane Satrapi’s "Persepolis," Alison Bechdel’s "Fun Home," the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s "Y: The Last Man" and Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg & Co.’s "The Sandman: The Doll’s House."

The course, which has been taught by associate professor Ryan Bartlett for three semesters with no previous complaints, is described as "the study of the graphic novel as a viable medium of literature through readings, in-class discussion and analytical assignments." Bartlett will now include a disclaimer in his course description.

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