Michigan State University

MSU Libraries Will Partner with Students and Faculty to Host Community Conversation about Eviction

Cindy Hunter Morgan




EAST LANSING, Mich., September 17, 2019 – What is the meaning of home? What are the root causes of displacement? How does structural racism shape economic inequality? The MSU Libraries will host a community conversation to address these important questions. The event is in support of the 2019 One Book, One Community (OBOC) initiative and will be held in the Green Room (4 West) in the Main Library on Monday, September 23 at 6 p.m.

The program is free and is the result of a collaboration with MSU Citizen Scholars, other MSU students, MSU faculty, MSU staff, and the broader community. Participants will have an opportunity to explore key themes of Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, and discuss how these themes resonate with conditions across the nation and in our own local region.

Dean of MSU Libraries Joseph Salem said the event is part of a larger effort that librarians are making to develop and foster conversations about empathy and cultural responsibility.

“We’re committed to providing welcoming spaces where we can work with others to advance conversations about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” Salem said. “This OBOC event is in important opportunity to encourage these discussions.”

Gender and Communication Studies Librarian Sharon Ladenson, who helped organize the event, said the goal is to bring the local community together to engage in a dialogue about the national crisis in housing insecurity. “My role has involved reaching out and working with faculty partners Sandra Logan (Director, MSU Citizen-Scholars Program) and Cheryl Caesar (MSU Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures) to collaboratively host and facilitate the community conversation in the library,” Ladenson said. “I’m very excited that MSU Citizen Scholars will take an active role as discussion facilitators.”

The Citizen Scholars are part of Sandra Logan’s Social Justice class (AL 491), which is focused on displacement in its many forms. There are 33 students in that course, all incoming first year students with majors in the College of Arts and Letters, and all members of the Citizen Scholars Program in the College of Arts and Letters. Logan’s students have been preparing to lead some of the discussions at the event.

“We formed small groups, and each group of students was assigned all chapters focusing on a single person or related group of people in the text,” Logan said. “Their task was to create a chapter-by-chapter overview of the events and issues affecting those people. They’re learning how structural conditions and policies shape people’s experiences and choices.”

The opportunity to help lead a discussion at MSU Libraries is significant. “As incoming students, new to the University setting, I think it’s a challenge for them,” Logan said. “But this challenge gives them opportunities to build confidence and to recognize how the work they do in their groups sets a pattern for effective learning and interaction. As leaders, the point will not be for them to necessarily assert their own perspectives, but rather, to facilitate an open and interactive conversation.”

Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, is a powerful account of the challenges faced by eight Milwaukee families in their struggle to maintain a roof over their heads. It is one of nearly eight million unique titles held by Michigan State University Libraries.

MSU libraries seek opportunities to broaden access and support for students, faculty, and community users. The One Book One Community events are part of this larger project to serve both the MSU and local communities.

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