Go Big Read selects ‘Evicted’ for 2016-17

Matthew Desmond is an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the

Matthew Desmond is an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the UW. Photo by Michael Kienitz

It’s the story of eight Milwaukee families faced with losing their homes. It’s also a powerful analysis of a little-known epidemic affecting people across the country living in poverty.

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” the best-selling book by alumnus Matthew Desmond, is the 2016-17 selection for Go Big Read, UW–Madison’s common-reading program.

“This book provides us an opportunity to talk about a little-understood facet of poverty and the profound implications it has for American families, particularly in communities of color,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank says. “I’m proud that an alum has brought this issue to the forefront and I look forward to conversations in our community about this important subject.”

Desmond received his doctorate from UW–Madison in 2010. He is an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the UW. In 2015, he received a MacArthur “genius” grant.

In his book, he writes that in the early 20th century, evictions in the U.S. were somewhat rare and popularly contested. Now they have become a frequent occurrence for low-income families, especially those headed by black women.

Milwaukee, a city of roughly 105,000 renter households, sees roughly 16,000 adults and children evicted in an average year, Desmond’s research shows. This is equivalent to 16 eviction cases a day.

“Providing stable housing and lowering evictions is a human capital investment analogous to education or job training — one that has the potential to decrease poverty and homelessness and stabilize families, schools and neighborhoods,” Desmond says.

“‘Evicted’ is astonishing — a masterpiece of writing and research that fills a tremendous gap in our understanding of poverty,” says previous Go Big Read author Rebecca Skloot. “Beautiful, harrowing, and deeply human, ‘Evicted’ is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice in this country.”

Go Big Read has a history of choosing timely topics that are part of the national discussion. This past year’s Go Big Read book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, highlights racial inequality and the need to reform America’s justice system. That success offers a bridge to a campus dialogue on Desmond’s central question: “Do we believe that the right to a decent home is part of what it means to be American?”

Initially, “immigration and community” had been chosen as the theme for the 2016-17 academic year, but “Evicted,” with its new insights on strengthening communities and its relevance within and beyond Wisconsin, made it a timely selection, Blank says.

Planning is underway for how students, faculty and staff will use the book in classrooms and for special events. Desmond plans to visit campus and give a talk. Copies of the book will be given to first-year students at the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students, and to students using the book in their classes. UW–Madison instructors interested in using the book can request a review copy.

The Go Big Read program is an initiative of the Office of the Chancellor.

This story was originally posted on wisc.edu by Kari Knutson/ April 27, 2016

Carbone Cancer Center: Dr. Howard Bailey: Oncologists should promote the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine

We have the tool at hand to potentially prevent 600,000 cases of cancer a year, says the head of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, in a policy statement published today urging a renewed effort to increase rates of vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Dr. Howard Bailey recently chaired the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) cancer prevention committee, and is the lead author of a policy statement published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“We are obligated to promote underused interventions that have the potential to save millions of lives through cancer prevention,” Bailey writes, in today’s statement. “Vaccinations against cancer-causing infections are such an intervention.”

Viruses cause about 1 million cases per year of cancer worldwide, and the HPV virus is responsible for about 600,000 of those cases. HPV causes cervical cancer, which kills about 266,000 women each year, most of them in the developing world. In the United States, HPV is also responsible for 60 percent of oral and neck cancers, 91 percent of anal cancers, 69 percent of vulvar cancers and 63 percent of penile cancers.

Despite the cancer-fighting power of the HPV vaccine, the United States has very low rates of vaccination. Only 36 percent of girls and 14 percent of boys ages 11 to 13 have had all three doses of the vaccine.

“The narrative regarding the HPV vaccine has been different from those for most adolescent vaccines. Rather than focusing on the life-threatening illness prevented, the focus has been on the behavior associated with infection (sexual activity),” Bailey writes. “This has led to misplaced parental attitudes toward, and understanding of, the vaccine. Studies have shown that parents do not understand the importance of the HPV vaccine or its impact on cancer prevention.”

The ASCO group chaired by Bailey hopes to increase HPV vaccination rates to the goal of 80 percent set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To do this, they propose:

– Better education of health care providers and the public about the cancer-prevention goals of the vaccine.

– Better clinical management, including using electronic medical records for reminders and followups; culturally relevant outreach to under-vaccinated groups; and bundling HPV with other vaccinations recommended for adolescents.

– Better access to low-cost vaccines, including lower out-of-pocket costs and delivery systems that could include school-based vaccinations.

– More research on HPV vaccine effectiveness and safety, including research on best practices to increase vaccination rates.

– More advocacy from oncologists in explaining the importance of HPV vaccination to their patients and the public.

“Although most oncologists will not be direct providers of these preventive measures, this does not abrogate us from contributing to this process. Our unassailable role in the mission to lessen the burden of cancer for our patients, their families, and our communities places us in a position of influence,” Bailey writes.

“We should use interactions with our patients, primary care colleagues, and health care systems to raise awareness of HPV-related cancers and the role of vaccination in preventing them.”

 By Susan Lampert Smith/ April 12, 2016