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Freedom to Read Week

SAIT supports intellectual freedom

SAIT is among several colleges in Canada that will be participating in Freedom to Read Week from Feb. 26 to March 4.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed to them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Beginning Feb. 28 at noon, SAIT students and faculty are invited to attend the Epic Reading Marathon.

This will be SAIT’s second year hosting a reading marathon.

During the event, a panel will discuss intellectual freedom and the importance of that right. 

Jim Gray, a SAIT library technician, will be running the event and is asking volunteers to bring a book from the banned or controversial list to read aloud for 15 minutes.

Gray said they are looking for 20-30 volunteers to bring a book to read aloud and should contact him if they wish to join. 

The event starts at noon and will end around 4 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to attend and participate. 

“If we get a ton of volunteers and the event goes until 11 p.m., that would be epic,” said Gray.

A list of prohibited books can be found on the Freedom to Read website. 

Gray said that graphic novels are among the books that often become challenged, as they sometimes contain nude content.

Magazines and books that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate for certain audiences are being removed from public libraries and schools.

Gray is an advocate for this event, as he understands the importance of literature that challenges readers to go beyond their comfort zones.

“The idea that there is someone out there in the world who thinks that I should have not read Harry Potter is ridiculous,” said Gray. 

Gray recalls a time where his freedom to read was challenged when buying the final Harry Potter book. 

“To have that taken away, having that right to interact in that world, to be in that world and to interact with those characters would have been significant.”

SAIT has participated in Freedom to Read Week for the past nine years by creating a display in the library. 

The display features both Canadian and American books that have been challenged from SAIT’s collection. 

In the upcoming weeks, Gray and other faculty members will be going to classrooms and speaking on the importance of intellectual freedom.

Gray said that intellectual freedom affects industries in the School of Information and Communications Technologies, especially those in the Library Technician, Broadcast News and Journalism programs. 

“It goes hand in hand with those programs,” said Gray.

With Freedom to Read Week, Gray encourages students and faculty to make time to read and come to the library to experience the variety of knowledge available. 

“It enriches your life,” said Gray about indulging yourself in a book and becoming emotionally invested in that world. 

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