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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

This year’s Campus Community Book Project focuses on gun violence in US

On-campus panel on Jan. 30 will feature speakers from Brady United Against Gun Violence

From natural disasters and global warming to mass violence, students today find themselves increasingly exposed to devastating events. These topics are delicate, scary and often avoided, but UC Davis’ Campus Community Book Project (CCBP) engages community members in tough conversations by spotlighting a relevant and pressing issue through a featured book and author chosen annually.

Megan Macklin, the project’s coordinator, says that the CCBP was initiated in the aftermath of 9/11 to help build community between the UC Davis campus and surrounding areas by giving people a forum to address controversial topics. Though the project is currently in its 18th academic year, its mission is still important and timely, Macklin said.

Throughout the years, the project has tackled issues including the wealth gap in America, developmental disorders, racial tensions and — this year — violence and gun violence. Macklin said the project committee always has a way of knowing what issues need to be covered before they even arise and, in the case of violence, it’s no different. 

She said college campuses openly talking about such a prominent issue in America is both important and necessary, as violence has been at the forefront of our “national consciousness,” especially in recent years.

“Unfortunately, more and more every day, it seems that there are reminders of how important this issue is for us,” Macklin said. “I think for a campus community like ours at UC Davis, selecting this theme is signalling [our] commitment and interest in engaging in conversation about a topic that is so critical. This project is only the start of the conversation that needs to be ongoing.”

This year’s selection is Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge, a journalist and previous editor-at-large for The Guardian. The book focuses on the gun violence that occurs on one randomly selected day and its effect on 10 children between the ages of nine and 19 throughout America. Younge’s piece humanizes the victims of gun violence in America, exposing a need for systemic change.

In addition to reading the book either independently or through enrollment in an annually-offered freshmen seminar class working in conjunction with the project, there are other ways for students to get involved. Students can attend any one of the on- or off-campus events on the CCBP event calendar. Macklin urges students and community members to attend an upcoming panel on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Student Community Center.

“[This] panel is made up of various community members [speaking] about advocacy with respect to gun violence and gun violence prevention,” Macklin said. “It is really going to have a focus on ‘What now?’ and ‘What can we do?’”

The panel will feature multiple representatives from Brady United Against Gun Violence, as well as Austin Michael, an undergraduate student at Sacramento State and a member of Team Enough. Additionally, Margaret Kemp, an associate professor of theatre and dance, is working with students on upcoming projects in conjunction with the CCBP. She encourages students to attend the play Burials taking place this weekend, from Jan. 16–18, at the Veterans Memorial Theatre.

“It’s a rather intense questioning of gun violence from young peoples’ point of view,” Kemp said. “We are going to be tabling at that event so that people can write their responses to the play and make that a part of a memorial around gun violence.”

This play, as well as other events centering around gun violence and other social issues, is being put on through the Theater for Social Change organization, started by UC Davis students. Their memorial will be on display at Gary Younge’s program at the Mondavi Center on March 2.

In addition to attending these events, Macklin encourages students to further their involvement with the CCBP by joining their committees: the selection committee, which works to select the book and theme each year, and the program planning committee, which plans the events associated with the book. Macklin encourages all UC Davis students to explore the CCBP on campus and in the Davis community.

“[The project is] an opportunity to build community and to engage our campus community and broader communities of Sacramento and Davis around shared conversation, shared dialogue and collective learning opportunities around critical and controversial topics of our time,” Macklin said.

Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — features@theaggie.org


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