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For Us All: A Love Letter to Our Students

UCSB is a research university. That means that faculty are engaged in pursuits they feel passionately about, whether they are contributing to research on aging, or trying to understand why the arts have been so valuable to our species as to have forever been our companions. These preoccupations often seem to take priority over teaching and getting to know our students. We teach a lot of large lecture classes. We dream about sabbaticals. But UCSB promotes undergraduate research as a way of involving undergraduates directly in that part of our mission, and we also teach (and wish we could teach more) small seminars, and we work with our undergraduates in labs, through internships or research assistanceships, on senior theses, in campus activism and on committees.

We don’t always know our students’ names, but even if we don’t, we know our students’ faces. You keep us thinking about what matters and about what we still need to learn. You keep us young. We hope we give you things too — a feeling for what a body of knowledge is and can do, ways of thinking, making and doing that change your brains and minds forever — so that all we’ve learned in the past can be part of what you will take into the future we won’t otherwise be able to share with you. Our minds and our hearts are so much more entwined than we realize.

What the faculty have learned in the aftermath of the Isla Vista shootings is how much we love our students. Perhaps love isn’t the right word for the bonds that link people who think, learn and work together, who share interests, or even fascinations. We need a richer lexicon to describe these relationships. But we will use the word because it expresses something of the intensity of our concern, regard and gratitude for you.

We love you. You are part of us, and we are part of you. We know learning is difficult and that you have to cope with a lot of boredom and anxiety every day. We know we don’t always connect well with you, as people or as experts in our fields. But when news of the shootings spread, we were desperate to know whether or not you were okay. We emailed you, telephoned you and scanned news sources, hoping you would not be among the dead and injured, feeling dreadful because we knew somebody had to be among the dead and injured, someone who was smart and hopeful, someone who was important. We’ve been so relieved to hear from you, so worried when we haven’t. We’ve all been overtaken by our feelings. But we are glad to know, and want you to know, how much you mean to us.

Research on social connectivity is growing more brilliant every day. There is still much we don’t know about how feelings and ideas become, or always already are, communal phenomena. But we know that feelings and ideas are transpersonal. And so we know — partly because we are part of a knowledge-making community — how true it is that we are all affected by the shootings, how much we have reached out to each other and how long it will be before we can enjoy again the shockingly good fortune of being alive. We are just so terribly sorry for those who had to leave us before they were ready.

Please be well. If we can help, tell us, and we will help you. If you need peace and quiet, we will be respectful. If you want to cry, we will cry with you. We will protest the unfairness of life right alongside of you. Please be well, and remember that we love you.

Aranye Fradenburg, Ph.D., is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCSB.

This is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.
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16 Responses to For Us All: A Love Letter to Our Students

  1. Scully

    August 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    It is always beautiful to stand on the side of promise, love, and hope and offer others help and knowledge. But with all respect to the author, it seems like she is either trying to put people to sleep or get clients. She is a therapist … no?

    Please ………

  2. raoul duke

    May 29, 2014 at 1:34 am

    We don’t know your names…
    We don’t know your faces…
    We love our TAs and would not be here if we had to teach…

    Talk about malignant.

  3. Senor Editore

    May 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Terrible writing for a Ph.D. This woman is a professor of English?

    • Camille

      May 28, 2014 at 10:30 am

      Why do you feel inclined to be negative? Keep comments like that to your self and appreciate what has been written, especially if it hasn’t been written for you.

    • Swany2

      May 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Terrible response to such an obviously heartfelt response to everyone affected by recent events in IV. The author did a wonderful job conveying her feelings to her students and UCSB as a whole. Check your negativity at the door.

    • Jake

      May 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Did you just forget what you read, and that was what you could conjure up? Let alone feel the need to comment? Take a look at yourself inside and out, you leave a comment like that when students are mourning, scared, worried, and unsure. There are students who recently graduated high school and need someone like this to look up to as a mentor and for comfort. You are vastly immature and I hope you realize this.

    • AJ

      May 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm


      Don’t give them the satisfaction of a reply.

  4. Suraj Sood

    May 28, 2014 at 1:48 am


  5. Ursula

    May 27, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Love is the right word.

  6. Elva

    May 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I am a UCSB Alumni, part of a family of 17 Alumni, with a son who is now a sophomore at UCSB. Thank you for your beautiful words which are well received in this time of sorrow and overwhelming feelings of loss, loss of control and understanding of our world, in a time such as this. As, I try to make sense of this event, I don’t have the words. Your kind words of love and support to our students brings me hope that this community can heal, with a reminder to bring their center back to their core, which is love. Thank you..

  7. Deborah Rafii

    May 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I am moved by your words. I graduated from UCSB many, many years ago. I was also an editor of the very newspaper that published your thoughtful letter. News of this tragedy has touched me and fellow alum deeply. It is as though we are still enrolled as students, still Gauchos who ride our bikes in the streets of IV to and from campus. We may not know the individuals and families devastated by this unfathomable event, but we feel an incredible sense of loss and longing reading and watching the news, remembering Isla Vista, its businesses, and the streets we once called home. We stand in solidarity with the entire UCSB community and wrap you in our arms.

    • Jim Lawrence

      May 27, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      I’m moved by your words Deborah Rafii! Still enrolled as students…

    • Denise Law

      May 28, 2014 at 3:55 am

      I agree whole-heartedly with you Deborah. I graduated four years ago, but the news of this tragedy has really hit home. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was riding my beach cruiser around IV and though I don’t personally know the victims or their families it feels as if they all are family. UCSB is such a wonderful place to grow and learn. My heart goes out to the UCSB community.

    • EricaO

      May 28, 2014 at 9:50 am

      From one old Gaucho to another (I even worked at the Nexus, too), thanks for a beautiful note about a beautiful letter.

    • Jeff Lustgarten

      May 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Thank you Deborah, and thank you to Professor Frandenberg. I too am an alum from long ago, but I will always be a Gaucho. The tragedy and senseless loss is no worse than Columbine, Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech, but as a Gaucho I’d be lying if I said this horror didn’t touch me in a completely different way. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days thinking about the twisted but glorious community that is Isla Vista. When I visited a few years ago, it was clear to me that while some of the business fronts had changed, so much of IV was exactly as I remembered it in the late 80s/early 90s. The hundreds of times I went to IV Market (now a deli), the countless bike rides down Sabado Tarde, the many weekends of crazy fun on DP. Those memories feel a little different now in light of last week’s tragedy, but there no less special to me now.

      To the current students at UCSB, please know that you are loved and being cared for, not only by your family, friends and fellow students, but by the entire Gaucho family. And please don’t let what happened last week to take away from your experience of being a Gaucho and living in the wonderful community of Isla Vista.

  8. Dvora Citron

    May 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for your heartfelt message. It means so much to us. We are parents of a current sophomore and a 2010 Alum. Our hearts are with the entire UCSB and Isla Vista community.