Editor, Daily Nexus,

This is an open letter to the student body of UCSB regarding two articles that were in the New York Times this past Friday. The first, “Greater Scrutiny on Colleges and Ties to Lenders,” discusses a senatorial investigation into numerous educational institutions’ preferential treatment to private lenders, which “have grown at an average rate of 27 percent annually since 2001.” The second, “Democracy Rules, and Pop Culture Depends on It,” describes the rising use of viewer interaction among game shows, product promotions and audience participation.

Is anyone surprised that the Times would use the term “democracy” to describe reality TV? Perhaps we should consider what we have to lose by throwing around terms such as “democracy,” “freedom” and “independence.” After all, isn’t it a shitty kind of freedom to be able to vote for a pop star while spending the years after college indebted to a loan company? Shouldn’t democracy give us a chance to vote against war rather than for a pork-barrel minstrel who will go to war to get votes and then condemn it when it becomes fashionable?

I think that we’ve confused democracy for something else. It’s not about popularity. It’s not about agreeing with everyone else. In fact, democracy is one of those words that are perhaps better left undefined because they can mean so many things and lead us down so many paths. Still, I think that as we blame terrorists, immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals and, of course, a dimwitted president whom 51 percent of us elected for the infringement of our freedoms, maybe we should think about what we’re doing to protect these freedoms. Maybe we should remember that democracy on TV isn’t really worth anything when it’s turned off.