The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Readers React to Peace Project

Not two sides to every story

Re: “Peace Project organizer to meet with administrators,” published Oct. 11.

I am greatly disturbed by the recent turn of events on campus regarding the “anti-ROTC” art project. Not only does the promised meeting between university officials and the professor who organized the project cast a sinister shadow over the academic freedom of other CSUN faculty, but it also seems to make some fundamentally flawed assumptions about processes of intellectual inquiry and practices of teaching.

The insistence that the professor concerned should have allowed “ample discussion time of opposing viewpoints” is ingenuous for several reasons. First, it’s a myth that every issue has two neatly opposed positions in response to it: there are an infinite number of positions on every issue, so it’s impossible to discuss all viewpoints.

Second, this demand is always only made of positions to which anti-progressive forces object. I’m sure that Lt. Col. Shawn Buck (head of the CSUN detachment of the UCLA Army ROTC, and the chief complainer about the ROTC-critical art exhibit) would not have insisted that a professor who criticizes the 9/11 attacks spend an equal amount of time defending the 9/11 attacks. In fact, I’m confident that he would be the first to protest if someone did make such a demand of a professor. The requirement to “present opposing viewpoints” is inevitably applied selectively and hypocritically.

Third, to insist that all positions be given equal legitimacy is to allow all members of the university community to abdicate our responsibility to ethics and morality. If we discuss the Holocaust, are we obliged to legitimize Hitler’s perspective? In studying the history of slavery, must we spend as much time arguing in favor of slavery as the time we spend explaining its horrors? I hope not. This would be the worst kind of moral relativism and would make a mockery of the university’s commitment to scholarly rigor.

It is important to remember that all teaching is political. Every professor makes political choices as they choose which books to assign for a particular course, how to arrange the seats in the classroom, how to frame assignments, etc. The anonymous student who complained about Pistolesi’s art project on the grounds that it is “based on a professor’s political point of view” seems to be missing the point that it’s impossible not to have a perspective (whether explicit or implicit), and so the project would have reflected Pistolesi’s politics no matter its content.

Ian Barnard,

English professor

Peace, art both noble goals

Re: “Peace Project organizer to meet with administrators,” published Oct. 11.

What happened to freedom of expression, and since when did peace become a bad thing? I have to admit I am a liberal and feel very strongly against our wartime president and his conservative ideals, and I am proud of my beliefs. But when did voicing your opinion become something frowned upon? Questioning and taking a stand for what you believe in is what our country has grown from. It is patriotic to say and express how you feel.

When I first heard about the Peace Project, as an art major, my first response was, “I can’t wait to see it.” I was pleased to see a college protest that would get everyone thinking, and that is just what it did. The Peace Project was extremely successful. While students may have, at the time, felt they couldn’t voice any opposing opinions, the project has certainly produced enough emotion around campus to get others speaking. This project was not “leftwing politics masquerading as art.” This is art! Any artist knows that art is a freedom of expression, and this project effectively conveyed an opinion, whether it was leftwing or rightwing. Art is much more than a pretty picture.

For those of you who are not against the war, what is the purpose of war? I believe the last time I studied our country’s history that war’s purpose is to bring about better conditions and peace. While I am by no means advocating the current war, I do believe that we should all be looking forward to the peaceful times the war may bring. I look forward to a time when there will be no more killing and crime. War is inevitable, I accept that, but it cannot be everlasting. So I laugh at those who say they are pro-war and “hate” the word peace, because it is war’s intention to create peace, change and improvement.

I applaud those who participated in the Peace Project. There is nothing you can do to be more patriotic than to challenge the status quo, evoke conversation, and be truthful to yourself. The teachers who came up with this creative project should be respected and envied by their colleagues and students because they taught more than basic art techniques; these teachers taught how to be thoughtful Americans. And on that note, I encourage all of you to register to vote in time for the upcoming Special Election.

Jessika Edgar,

Freshman art major

Learning includes politics

Re: Commentary “Professors abuse their power with Peace Project” published Oct. 6.

After reading Paroski’s lengthy opinion, I would like to share a bit of mine. Paroski makes many arguments about why the professors should not share their opinions regarding political issues in class. The reasons he states that stick out to me the most about why they shouldn’t “indoctrinate” the students are as follows (in his own words):

1) “-The inability of the average student to effectively combat it.” Notice he writes the word “average.” I agree that most of the CSUN students are definitely average. Not to put down CSUN; the rest of the U.S. students would fit in that category as well.

2) “Most people do not like conflict or lack the knowledge necessary to debate effectively against passionate advocates of a particular view.” Once again, I completely agree with Paroski. The reason being that most people are not passionate advocates of any particular view, whether it is one of a radical, or a conservative nature. MTV and “The OC” do not exactly get our young people ready for that part of the “outside world.”

3)”…That they are nervous about speaking in public, or that they do not want to get on the professor’s bad side.” I understand this – it is not easy to speak about things in public and no one wants to get a bad grade simply because of a political disagreement with a professor. This is a university, however, and as young adults, moving into the “outside world,” I would certainly hope that if they are to survive the “outside world” that they will be able to express their concerns with other adults and not be cowed into silence by anyone.

4) “They stayed silent rather than risking their grade and their reputations.” Once again, the fear of peer retribution and the consequence of a bad grade. This is eerily reminiscent of what the German people said when asked “why they did nothing” when the Nazis began rounding up the vagrants, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the Jews, and so on. Is this what our great country is coming to? A bunch of frightened sheep who would rather close their eyes and pretend nothing is happening than to alert the rest of the flock that there are wolves in their midst?

Finally, Paroski states that “professors should stay away from political advocacy and stick to providing their students with the tools and knowledge necessary to succeed in the outside world.”

As readers may have noticed, I took particular note with his use of the term “outside world.” Since when are politics not a part of the outside world?

I guess I really don’t need to ask that, since I personally graduated from CSUN, was a part of the U.N.-type political body known as the A.S. Senate, and witnessed time and time again the extremely low percentage of students who vote on campus. Why would students want to know about politics? It is all decided by the great Wizard of Oz behind a giant curtain, booming his marvelous decrees from the g
argantuous megaphone known as Mainstream Media.

I will leave Paroski with one final question: Why is peace so provocative while war is always patriotic?

Alan Glasband,

Graduate student

Teaching Credential Program

Politics not a part of project

Re: Commentary “Professors abuse their power with Peace Project” published Oct. 6.

I must start out with saying that I am currently one of the art students that Paroski addressed wrongfully in last week’s column. He clearly stated that the project was an antiwar project. It was not! None of the professors addressed the project like that. None of them came up to me and said that we were protesting any war.

The way that the project was presented to Professor Pam Huth’s 100-level class was that we are transforming soldiers into occupations to show that they are real people when they come home from war, which they are. Not once during her lecture to us did she mention anything about protesting. All she said was that the project was inspired by Cindy Sheehan.

I am deeply offended that Paroski addressed all of the art classes that participated in this project as a whole when we weren’t. I am also deeply upset that he labeled me and many other students as antiwar protesters. Not once was the subject of politics addressed during class. Paroski needs to address the article that he wrote with factual information. I would appreciate another column to be published that speaks the truth.

Erin Saporta,

Senior liberal studies major

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