Letters to the Editor / Opinion

Dear Academic Senate: Keep Our Colleges Creative

Dear Academic Senate,

You don’t know me, I don’t know you and you sure as hell don’t know about the College of Creative Studies. But word on the street is you’re slowly going to shut it down.
I don’t know you but I am going to assume that you’re very smart people and you have an excellent reason to demolish something so unique that there are only a handful of programs in the U.S. that are even faintly similar to CCS. But I haven’t heard any of those reasons. Are you shy?

My belief is you have had other people give you recommendations and you have read their research or you have heard about this or that about CSS, but let me ask you a few questions: Have you ever had a French kiss? One from someone who you never believed would ever be into you? Along the cliffs of Del Playa as a band plays in the distance and the sweet smells of the eucalyptus trees mixes with the sea air?

I’m sure you have.

Now if, say an alien from outer space quizzed you about it later, you would probably have a really great story to tell.

But let’s pretend the alien asked a neighbor of yours, “What was that kiss I just saw?” The neighbor would probably say, “Oh, kissing is when you put your mouth next to the mouth of someone else and you twist your tongues around for a little while.”

Is that how you would have described it if the alien asked you about making out?

Probably not. And no matter how smart or worldly or amazing you are, I bet you that no matter what sort of words you put together, you could never describe kissing to someone who has never kissed in a way that was better than… actually kissing. On DP. On a perfect night. With the lust of your life. Who you didn’t even think knew you existed.

I seriously doubt any of you have experienced firsthand what the College of Creative Studies is or was. And I know you have never enjoyed a year or two of being taught by the likes of Robyn Bell or John Wilson. In an environment where you didn’t have to worry about grades or tests or midterms or finals. Where you simply had to go to class, read the books, open your mind and write, and then listen to the feedback.

On paper it might seem super easy, totally idealistic, maybe even too good to be true. And it is for some. But for others, it is the most perfect educational situation in the world. And you have it right now on your campus.

Please do not kill it.

If there are parts about it that you think need fixing, then fix it. Maybe some mouthwash or gum is necessary. Maybe some communication between the parties is in order. But I seriously doubt that if you knew what has gone down in there, and what magic is capable in there, that is extremely hard to pull off elsewhere, you would throw this ridiculous idea of killing CCS out immediately.

Please talk to actual alums. Please talk to Robyn and John. If you want that land for some huge building, put CCS in the basement. CCS clearly has never been about the walls around it. You would know this if you knew it.

So please, either get to know it or just believe that you have something precious and unique and you were not put on this planet to crush it. You were put here to save it.

Thank you in advance.

Tony Pierce is the Community Manager of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He graduated in 1991 from the College of Creative Studies in Literature.

Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are primarily submitted by students.
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  1. As a student rep on a committee in Academic Senate, I just wanted to assure you, for what it’s worth, that the moratorium is not intended to kill CCS. The hope is that CCS literature, working with relevant LTSC departments, continue their work together(assessing the lit program, as they have been for at least 2 years) and have a revised program ready for new applicants as soon as possible.

    The appearance of outsiders with little knowledge is valid but in my opinion, it is not necessarily the case. And to be clear, the Academic Senate is not restructuring the program, Dean Tiffney and Dean Marshall are working with those involved to do this.

    • Robyn Raymer says:

      Hey, Scott. Please explain what you mean by “The appearance of outsiders with little knowledge is valid but in my opinion, it is not necessarily the case.”

      • I interpreted the letter as saying these professors on the Academic Senate heard recommendations from ‘other people’ and read the research and decided to kill the program. However, the moratorium came out of discussions between both LTSC English and CCS lit departments and explicitly calls for a rethinking and restructuring of the program, not its suspension.

        I’m only making the point that CCS is directly involved in the process and the Academic Senate has relatively little control in structuring this program that they, as argued in the letter, know little about.

        Of course there could be fears that the restructured program will not be what it once was but the decision made it clear that both Dean Tiffney must be a leader of the process and satisfied with whatever program comes out.

        *please take these comments as only knowledge sharing, I am sincerely sympathetic with the intent and concerns

  2. Robyn Raymer says:

    Correction: Literature Alumni

  3. Robyn Raymer says:

    I found out this morning that the CCS Literature admissions freeze, moratorium, suspension, whatever it is called DID pass in the Undergraduate Council of the Academic Senate last week–in fact, on the same day that Tony Pierce posted this letter. An appeal is possible, but only an Academic Senate member may appeal. I am very, very sad about this decision. If you want to discuss this, please come to our Facebook group. It is called CCS Litature Alumni.

    Robyn Raymer
    CCS Literature 1979

  4. Sara Seinberg says:

    It was like kissing wasn’t it? And then also not like anything else. It was Robyn Bell and it was a whole semester of Mishima and it was your fellow students cramming a life into 18 lines, heroic couplets, and messy rewards. It was having teachers rise up in meter and hand over the gifts of language.

    Don’t kill that.
    Communication is one of our greatest family heirlooms.
    And literature at CCS shapes that for people in ways that matter.

    Behold: Tony Pierce.

    It is my deep desire that you consider this program and it’s meaning not in just the letters you see here, but also the ones who have no idea this is happening, who would write at the drop of a dime. The most valuable dime in the room.

    Sara Seinberg

  5. I was fortunate to have the best education I could have imagined at UCSB–I got to have the benefits of a large college campus with extended community, AND the tremendous opportunity to be a part of small seminar style classes where all of my professors knew my name and who I was, and were committed to my growing skills as a writer, reader, critical thinker and contributor. My experiences in the literature and writing program at the College of Creative Studies shaped me in ways I cannot express in words–it prepared me for graduate work, as we were treated like graduate students (this fact is evident when you look at how many students went on to get graduate degrees); it also prepared me for real world collaborative work and communication–also evident from the unique paths so many of my colleagues have taken, including the author of this piece, Tony Pierce. We are doing real work in the world, interesting work, creative work that makes it a better place. We are making contributions that indeed will be remembered. CCS made it’s indelible mark on each of us and we spread it likewise with the world. I had the unique joy of coming back to CCS as visiting faculty in 2004 (I was on faculty at CUNY for 15 years) and I found the students capable of remarkably sophisticated conversation and debate. It was a true joy to discuss books with these highly capable honors students. To get rid of one of the most unique programs it has would be the biggest mistake UCSB could make. Why not promote CCS further and attract students with this inimitable offering? It should be a draw to UCSB, not something to discard as if without consequence. I sincerely hope you will drop this question of whether to keep the CCS Literature program–it is unparalleled and it is truly a place of academic freedom and rigor that has shaped many lives and should continue to do so for as long as UCSB is an institution of learning.
    With All Sincerity,
    Amy Jo Goddard, CCS Lit 1992
    Published author, CEO

  6. Liam Stanton says:

    Well said.

  7. Robyn Raymer says:

    I’m Robyn Raymer, CCS Literature 1979. I have an M.A. in English from UC Berkeley and I’ve been a K-12 textbook writer since 1987. In an earlier comment on Tony Pierce’s letter I just said “wow.” He is a brilliant writer. He does not mention that he was the LA Times blog editor for several years before he got his current job at the Motion Picture Academy.

    But I wanted to say more about the CCS Literature program.

    My questions for UCSB are: Here’s a program that’s been working wonderfully for over 45 years. Why gradually or quickly shut it down and put something completely different (or nothing) in its place? What’s wrong with reading lots of world literature, talking about it with excellent teachers and smart, enthusiastic classmates, and writing about it (the literature)? And what’s wrong with plain old creative writing? Do we have to put the psychology and philosophy and sociology, etc., etc., etc. of creativity at the forefront? Do we have to pick creativity apart?

    As for digital humanities at CCS Lit, can’t there just be one or two classes about it, and leave it at that? It can be really useful and fun and creative (and sometimes addictive and ADD-inducing and enervating), but it is primarily a tool. It won’t teach students to read and write and think critically the way the CCS Literature program does and has for all these many years.

    Though I never likened it to French kissing on DP (I lived on El Sueno), I LOVED going to school at CCS. Every day was exciting–I’m not exaggerating. (This is so rare in education!) I was very sad to leave. And I was well prepared for grad school in the English Department at Berkeley.

    Before freezing admissions to CCS Lit, I hope the Academic Senate members will take the time to get to know the program better than most of them probably do now. I’m hopeful that they will.

  8. Robyn Raymer says:


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