This article is in response to a column by Trey Myklebust (Daily Nexus, “Some Professors Get All the Luck With Research Projects,” May 1). Apparently, Myklebust is less than supportive of a research project that was conducted by a team of professors at UCSB. This project included a study of men who frequent establishments in which women parade around in the nude for economic exchange, also known as strip clubs. The men were asked if the distance from which the women danced in front of them and the amount of clothing they were wearing (or not wearing) made a difference in the enjoyment of their strip club experience. I concede that this research is controversial, as is anything that has sexual overtones. Furthermore, everyone is certainly entitled to his or her own opinion. I, however, am an enthusiastic advocate of educated opinions. So when a fellow UCSB student publicly expresses his (or her) opinion that is clearly devised from emotion rather than fact, I cannot help but cringe.
Allow me to provide a bit of context for this research experiment. Surely I am not the only one who has a hard time believing that any research team is persuasive enough to convince a funding agency to hand over “a large sum of money for four professors and their buddies to go to strip clubs and call it research.” This research was designed and conducted to answer important First Amendment issues that are currently plaguing our federal, as well as several state, supreme courts. On one hand there are several cities that believe that they have the right to limit the distance in which women are allowed to dance in front of customers, as well as the amount of clothing they are required to wear. On the other hand, these dancers argue that such regulations are an infringement on their First Amendment right to freedom of expression. They contend that limiting the distance between them and their customers has an impact on the expressive statement they would like to make. Therefore, a team of researchers from UCSB was granted permission and the resources to determine if the arguments made by the dancers were valid or not.
The astute Myklebust made the insinuation that it does not take a rocket scientist to predict the outcome of this experiment. He is adamant that it is clearly obvious that men would prefer to have strippers practically dancing on their laps as opposed to six feet away. As true as this may be, intuitive guesses count for very little in the realm of social science. Since Myklebust is self-admittedly not a social science intellectual, I feel it is my obligation to provide context for what the uninformed may label as a futile waste of research grants. It does not matter if the research question you are addressing is as obvious as “Will I get wet if I jump in the ocean?” If you do not have legitimate research to back up your claim, your findings will have no merit, especially if you are presenting the information to the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, Myklebust seems to have fallen victim to the misconception that there is a correlation between research funding and tuition hikes. Myklebust, as much as I hate to say you are wrong on this one, you are definitely wrong on this one. Most research funding comes from outside sources and is given to the school, in mass amounts, for research purposes. So, if anything, the funding for research projects at UCSB actually helps students with tuition costs. Therefore, instead of complaining about useless research projects conducted by UCSB scholars, I say we should look forward to finding out the effects of jumping into the ocean.
Kristen Payne is a senior communication major.