Editor, Daily Nexus:
This is a response to Nick Farrah’s letter printed in the Nexus (Reader’s Voice, “Professor Abuses Power by Campaigning for SAC,” April 11). We sympathize with Farrah’s concern over campus politics, but we take issue with his denunciation of Professor Armbruster.
First, the fact that Farrah positions his argument alongside that of “a certain UC Regent” with a clear anti-diversity political agenda makes us wonder whether he is expressing concern over student affairs or veiled hostility toward those who try to challenge the structure of our learning. The fact is that all academic pursuits are inherently political; it is only those that serve to maintain the status quo that can parade as objective or neutral. The attack on ethnic studies, which Farrah has allied himself with, views ethnic studies programs and departments as “political” because they pose a challenge to white knowledge, white overrepresentation among students and faculty, and white supremacist institutions. Surely, academic departments that do not challenge these things are also serving a political agenda – the maintenance of the status quo.
Second, Professor Armbruster’s transparency about his point of view and his involvement in campus activism should not make students fear disagreeing with him anymore than students should fear voicing an opinion in a class where they know nothing about the professor’s political viewpoints or political involvement. All faculty and TAs have opinions. By Farrah’s logic, students should always be afraid of speaking or writing, because if a professor disagrees with them, they are at risk of “persecution.” Certainly, all students should expect, even hope to be challenged in university classrooms. If you are not being challenged to solve a mathematical equation or to fully understand a sociological problem, you may be wasting your time and money at UCSB.
Finally, the quality of life on campus is, or should be, of concern to all members of the UCSB community. Campus groups, campaigning parties and individual students have historically benefited from the advice, support and involvement of faculty on this campus, sometimes in “fact” and sometimes in “fact and appearance.” In the same way, faculty members have received support from students and student organizers throughout time. Certainly, we should not punish Professor Armbruster for recognizing the ways in which our lives as students, faculty and administrators are interconnected. Perhaps a more fruitful discussion would focus on how to build alliances among students, faculty and administrators so that we can all benefit from each other’s diverse perspective, experiences and energy.
PUEBLO,A LATINO GRADUATESTUDENT ASSOCIATION