The discussion was hosted by the UNC Student Organization for Undergraduate Literature, which invited participants to bring books that had been banned at one point in time.
Senior and SOUL Co-President Andrew Soboeiro said the event allowed students to communicate their personal experiences with their favorite books.
“It is a great outlet for discussing and expressing the ideas that you have while you read,” Soboeiro said.
The event took place during Banned Books Week, an annual, national event that promotes the right to access forms of literature freely, without bans or censorship.
“It is important to reflect on why we are really concerned about the issue of censorship,” Soboeiro said.
“Recognizing why things were banned in the past will hopefully stop us from banning things for the same reasons now.”
The discussion began with each student sharing a favorite banned book and the reason it was banned.
Many books are banned over themes such as sex and sexuality, religion, acts considered morally repulsive and gender issues, such as the depiction of females as powerful or as protagonists.
“When governments ban books, they usually want to control part of the public’s thoughts,” said Alice Martin, senior and SOUL co-president.
Martin said governing bodies shouldn’t have the right to limit what people can read.
“Everything, regardless of your opinions on it, deserves to be discussed. Even if you disagree with it,” she said.
Sophomore political science major Stephanie McCormick agreed.
“You have to recognize alternative viewpoints than your own,” she said.
Sophomore physics major Emma Dedmond agreed.
“It is important to have access to information and to be able to form your own ideas and your own beliefs,” she said.
Another talking point at the meeting was governing bodies’ tendency to deem certain works inappropriate for children and young adults and then ban them for readers of all ages.
Many popular contemporary books — including “The Great Gatsby,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” the Harry Potter series, and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” — have been banned at one point or another.
Dedmond said such books were valuable to read as a child.
“They seemed like such positive influences on my life at the time,” she said.
Dedmond added that banning books keeps the public from discussing important topics.
“You should never censor an idea.”