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ASCSU Women and Social Justice Caucus hosts book drive

ASCSU+Women+and+Social+Justice+Caucus+hosts+book+drive
Collegian | Trin Bonner

In a back corner of the Associated Students of Colorado State University’s main office sits a dark-stained bookshelf. Sets of social justice books sit long-untouched and covered in dust litter its shelves — the echo of a forgotten campaign until recent efforts to bring the library back to life.

ASCSU’s Women and Social Justice Caucus announced March 19 they would begin a Women’s History Month Book Drive with the mission of collecting books to create a social justice library.

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The drive, hosted in association with ASCSU and the Survivor Advocacy and Feminist Education Center, was inspired by a longer look at an underutilized corner of the ASCSU office.

“We have a social justice library here in ASCSU that has rarely, if ever, been used,” said Lauren Davis, SAFE Center senator. “It was pretty outdated (and) didn’t really have a lot of books.”

To restore the library, the Women and Social Justice Caucus launched a book drive with a clear mission in mind.

“Libraries intrinsically have a social justice mission, which is to break down barriers to information. Information is power. Right information, knowledge, is power. So by nature, libraries empower communities to be informed.” –Jimena Bretón, CSU Libraries interim head of student success

“The goal is to bring in more books, more resources for CSU students and beyond,” said Olivia Friske, Women and Social Justice Caucus chair. “To make (ASCSU) more constructive, diverse (and) inclusive for the goals of social justice.”

Social justice, in the simplest terms, can be defined as the equitable and fair treatment of all people in society regardless of their social status or identity aspects. Libraries themselves also play a critical role in social justice.

“Libraries intrinsically have a social justice mission, which is to break down barriers to information,” said Jimena Bretón, CSU Libraries interim head of student success. “Information is power. Right information, knowledge, is power. So by nature, libraries empower communities to be informed.”

This intrinsic value can also be carried through into ASCSU’s library and the founding missions of CSU itself, which have influenced the types of books the caucus is hoping to receive.

“Diversity, equity (and) inclusion is one of the founding principles of CSU,” Davis said. “Any book that encourages people to look further into DEI and to do their own work with that and just talk about equality (is a candidate for donation).”

Friske recounted the already overwhelming community response they have received. 

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“We have had a lot of people reach out with books even if they are not in the social justice field,” Friske said. 

Some of the notable unique volumes include books about the role of gender in the engineering industry and another on gender equality and tax code. The book drive is also searching for banned books, especially due to heightened censorship in recent years.

“We are accepting banned books because with current legislation going in the United States and with the rise of censorship, we want to make sure we have a safe haven for books that might be seen as controversial,” Friske said.

Books currently under censorship campaigns can also offer needed representation of marginalized and underrepresented communities. Davis said she hopes the library will help make ASCSU a welcoming environment to the diverse student body.

“Books are being banned just to kind of take away representation from people, and so the ability for us to have those here in a space where they’re not being regulated and where people can see the representation (makes it a safe space),” Davis said.

Libraries also allow people to explore viewpoints and angles they might have not previously been aware of or understood, whether that is in their local community, nationally or within themselves.

“Libraries and books provide you with the ability to have conversations with authors that perhaps you cannot have with (yourself) or with the people in your community,” Bretón said.

The Women and Social Justice Caucus hopes this conversational value and individual learning will occur at their own library.

“I’m hoping that people can come into ASCSU and feel comfortable to look at the books,” Friske said. “Read them. Check them out.”

Davis also said she hopes readers take away more lifelong lessons from the books they will encounter.

“(I hope) people check out books and that they’re able to read them and find something that they connect with that they can take further into life,” Davis said.

Books will be collected through April 22. Boxes for donation are located in ASCSU’s main office, the SAFE Center and the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center. 

Reach Katie Fisher at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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