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Sarah Dallof reportingA book being used in an English class at the University of Utah is generating controversy. Time Magazine voted it the book of the year, but some students are calling it pornographic and asking it be removed from their curriculum.
Thomas Alvord, with the group "No More Pornography," says, "The issue is exposing people to pornography."
The issue is with "Fun Home," a book assigned for reading in a mid-level English class at the University of Utah. The class introduces students to different literary genres. In the case of "Fun Home," it's told in the style of a comic book. The story centers around the author as she comes to terms with her own and her father's homosexuality.
Drawings depicting sex acts are included in the 230 page novel. A student in the class was offended and approached the group "No More Pornography," which made headlines earlier this year when it staged a successful protest of music videos shown a gym in Provo. The group has started an online petition in protest of the book.
Alvord says, "It's like they're turning their back and pretending graphics, depiction of oral sex, are not an issue."
Vincent Pecora, the chair of the English Department at the U says, "If we try to only choose only the novels that have a moral point of view that we agree with, we might not have a whole lot of literature to teach."
Pecora is defending the book and the professor teaching the course. Among his reasons, the University's accommodation policy, which allows a student to get an alternate assignment or leave the course without penalty. Four other classes fulfill the requirement.
"I think it's really an obligation to teach this kind of literature. It's new, it's interesting, it's inventive," Pecora said.
The student in question accepted an alternate assignment but would like to see further changes. The university has no plans make any. It says while a student has the right not to read the book, other students in the class have the right to judge for themselves.
"No More Pornography" hopes to continue talking with the University of Utah and will continue the online petition. The group is also asking that filters be installed on campus computers to prevent students from accessing explicit images.