Editor, Daily Nexus:
I write this letter to express my outrage that an associate professor of Chicano studies, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, was actively abusing his power as a faculty member by engaging in an Associated Students election campaign. A certain UC Regent already criticized ethnic studies departments at UC schools as being “more focused on political pursuits than on academic ones,” and Armbruster’s actions with the Student Action Coalition serve to legitimize this criticism.
Professors should not be abusing their power by involving themselves in students’ political affairs. In doing so, they effectively force students in their classes to agree with them or risk being persecuted for their opinions. Even if professor Armbruster can continue to remain objective in dealing with students who may have different opinions than him, he is still stepping over an ethical line by potentially making students fear a bad grade if they are involved with an opposing Associated Students campaign. Professors need to remain independent of students’ political affairs in both fact and appearance.
It is acceptable and commendable for professors to encourage students to be involved. It is neither acceptable nor commendable for professors to help students win elections against other students in a student election. This is akin to a baseball team of eight-year-olds bringing in a 15-year-old pitcher. It is unfair and unethical.
Professor Armbruster indeed appears more interested in political pursuits than academic ones. If he wants to be a professor, he should not be involved in student-based political campaigns. If he wants to be a political activist for student affairs, he should not be a professor. Let the students fight the students’ fight.