International book fair carries onward

Adam Burkhart

Under a tight budget, the annual San Diego City College International Book Fair will carry on this year Oct. 1 through 6 with limited sponsorship from the Associated Student Government.

The book fair is operating on a much smaller budget than it has in the past, which impelled book fair director, professor Virginia Escalante to try some more imaginative strategies to secure those funds.

“We did the Macy’s thing, shop for a cause,” Escalante said, explaining that they sold $5 coupons for sale at Macy’s in exchange for the price of the coupon.

“How desperate can you get?” Escalante said.

The ASG approved a $1,000 sponsorship of the book fair at their meeting Sept. 14, which was $2,000 less than the fair’s organizers had requested.

Senate Vice President Stephen Faille motioned to reduce the amount of the sponsorship because ASG had previously given $1,000 toward the fair last semester.

Faille cited the event’s popularity among students as a reason to continue to provide sponsorship, but added, “I think it’s really important that we monitor our spending and what we commit to.”

“I think it’s very reasonable,” Escalante said before the ASG. “The demand is great; the resources are limited.”

The City College Foundation periodically provides funding to the fair, but not this year.

“We’re now in an alternating pattern with the City College Foundation,” Escalante said. “Every other year they’ll fund the book fair and in the meantime they’ll fund another program that may not have had support before (in) an attempt to make the distribution of limited resources equitable.”

Escalante said that the American Federation of Teachers union, which also sponsors the event, had to reduce it’s contribution to $1,000 from a previous $5,000 because of the recession and the need to share resources.

In the past, the fair has drawn authors from outside California to lecture and answer questions from attendees. A popular favorite, according to Escalante, was Luis Rodriguez, author of “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.”

“We had 500 people squeezed in (the Saville Theatre),” for Rodriguez’s appearance, Escalante recalled. “People were angry out in the lobby. We had a near riot because people were saying ‘We came to see Luis Rodriguez and you won’t let us in,’” she said.

This year because the fair’s organizers cannot afford to accommodate nationally recognized authors from out of state the focus will be on authors from Southern California and San Diego.

The fair, named “We read banned books,” coincides with National Banned Books Week.

According to Escalante, three of the authors who will make appearances have written books that were subject to Arizona’s House Bill 2281, legislation which resulted in the elimination of Mexican American Studies programs in the Tucson Unified School District and the removal of many books from classrooms.

According to the wording of HB 2281, school districts in Arizona are prohibited from implementing programs of instruction that advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote racial or class resentment, or that emphasize students’ ethnicity rather than their individuality.

A screening of “Precious Knowledge,” a film depicting the prohibition of ethnic studies and book banning events in Arizona will also take place.

Books by Chicano authors will be read aloud by City faculty.  Books that Escalante said fill in a chapter of history of the American Southwest.

“Chicano authors are part of the literary canon in our nation,” Escalante said. “They are American authors too. And so they are significant voices that need to be heard in our curriculum.”

The event will offer discounted books, some of which are used by professors in English, Chicano Studies and basic skills classes on campus.

Works by City student and artist Socrates Medina will also be featured at the event.

“We may be operating on gas fumes, but we’re going to have a decent program,” Escalante said.

All events are free and open to the public.

Anyone who would like to donate to the fair can do so by writing a check to the City College Foundation and indicating that it go to the San Diego City College International Book Fair.

Faculty can donate by having a specified amount deducted from their paycheck each month. Also, if a faculty member makes a monthly donation to the AFT’s Committee on Political Action, the AFT will make a one-time donation to a charity or program of the member’s choosing, including the fair. The single donation made by AFT will be for double the amount of the monthly donation to COPE.

For a complete list of features authors, speakers and a complete book fair schedule visit www.sdcitybookfair.com.