Tuesday, June 25

Readathon entertains into the night


Students gave new meaning to the term “pulling an
all-nighter” Thursday night with the English
Department’s annual fundraising Readathon.

Students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered for a
round-the-clock reading of “U.S.A.” by John Dos Passos.
The trilogy has an expected reading time of 27 hours, but the
fundraisers said they were determined to read every word on every
page, even if it means reading simultaneously.

The marathon, which is expected to end this afternoon, has
temporarily transformed the Sculpture Garden outside Rolfe Hall:
white cloth banners with illustrations hang from trees, and tents,
sleeping bags and flashlights were pulled out at night.

The event, which is predicted to bring in $15,000 through alumni
donations and T-shirt sales, is the English Department’s main
fundraiser and serves as a “network to get people hooked
up,” according to English graduate student Sean Silver.

The proceeds go to the English Department, which uses the money
for student scholarships, research grants, travel fellowships, and
prizes and awards for literary achievement.

The reading of book one began at noon on Thursday with the help
of celebrity actors Michael York, David Birney, Peter Dennis and
Deanne Dennis. In the past, guest readers have included such
individuals as Rosa Parks, Charlton Heston and John Astin of
“The Addams Family.”

This year’s selection, “U.S.A.,” is, in the
words of its author prior to his death, “the speech of the
people.” It spans the early 20th century and tells the story
of early industrialized America.

Silver explained the English Department’s decision to read
“U.S.A.” simply by saying it is a “classic work
of literature” that “everybody should have read, but
hasn’t.”

John Ritchie, a fourth-year music student, is a first-time
attendee of the Readathon but hopes to return next year. He lounged
facing the orange “USA USA” banner and commented that
“stuff like this should happen” more often at UCLA.

Though UCLA Professor Thomas Wortham joked last year about just
getting a book on tape and playing it so “everyone can go
home,” the all-night reading has become a tradition at UCLA
since its initiation in 1996. Each year, die-hard students guzzle
coffee and find ways to stay awake until the novel is finished.

Over 250 students have volunteered to read at the event, and the
participants often show off their creativity. Wigs, costumes and
other props are commonplace throughout the readings.

Overall, the participants find ways to make the event fun and
entertaining. One year, two students went streaking nude across the
UCLA campus before being seen by a bicycle cop and, soon after,
backup officials. Two years ago, sleeping students were rudely
awakened when the lawn sprinklers accidentally went off.

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