Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The snowy plovers cry for us tonight.

I am well aware that my university's reputation as a "party school" vastly precedes any other reputation it may have. However, I don't believe that the current decision by AS Legal Resources to allow the fraternity Kappa Sigma to use the university's name for its new calendar is going to help the University of California, Santa Barbara in its life-long quest to bolster its academic reputation and extinguish the party school stigma.

Though I am a feminist, I am not offended by the images from the "Girls of UCSB" calendar that have been posted on this website thus far. I rather like pin-up art, particularly pin-up art from the 1940s. I feel that the pin-up actually controls the male gaze, rather than being controlled by it. I not-so-secretly want to be a 1940s pin-up. Like everyone else, I like to look at beautiful women. I like to look at women in general. I even have a subscription to Maxim.

The biggest problem I have with this calendar is the use of the university name. We are an academic institution that has had 4 Nobel Laureates chosen from our faculty. Playwright Naomi Izuka teaches here. Stephen Hawking visits our Physics department regularly. This calendar and the AS Legal Resources people's decision to allow the university name on this calendar is certainly not helping us to promote the academic merits of UCSB. It's promoting everything that we don't need to promote.

It doesn't matter that portions of calendar sales will be donated to the Shoreline Preservation Fund. If the university name is going to help preserve the shorline, it would be better done through a direct donation from the university or, perhaps, Kappa Sigma and other student groups could go out and clean-up beaches instead.

I'd like to believe that everyone who decides to attend college is doing so because they truly want to, because they are genuinely invested in their educations--not just because college is the thing you pretty much have to do in order to get ahead in the world and maintain the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed. Unfortunately, I know that the reality is the latter. People go to college because it's what you do. The natural progression of things. High school, college, career, marriage, babies, more career, retire, die.

The function of higher education is not to party in Isla Vista, and that's the general image of my university that this calendar is helping to promote. I do party in Isla Vista, but I'm here at UCSB to foster academic criticism and participate in a scholarly community of ideas. I'm here to continue to live a life of the mind.

The Kappa Sigma "Girls of UCSB" calendar is not helping the university, and those of us who are truly invested in our academic lives, separate itself from the surrounding community of Isla Vista. And I could not be more sad than I am right now to learn of this backward step taken by AS Legal Resources in further entwining the university name with the party school stigma.

No comments: