More Thoughts On Math Barbie Debate

Eli Bixby

To the Editors:

I’m new to the “Math Barbie” debate. I read the relevant articles not an hour ago, and I have yet to see the transgression in question. But journalistic wrongdoing aside, as I was reading Professor Mehta’s words, a single message — clear and personal — leapt out at me: “The time is now. Put up or shut up…”

I spend a lot of my time complaining — you can ask my friends — and our culture surrounding science is one of my most common complaints. I’m currently pursuing majors in biology and computer science, with minors in chemistry, math and any other science I can figure out how to cram into my schedule. I adore science, and given the opportunity, will talk about it endlessly. Sadly, I get this opportunity so much more rarely than I would like. I refuse to believe that Oberlin suffers a deficit of science enthusiasts; every department I have experienced has been vital, thriving and excited about rapid recent growth. I also doubt that my biased social circle is abnormally unbalanced. I keep myself in the company of more than a handful of science majors and enthusiasts. My guess is that the problem is less obvious, but more fundamental. My guess is that science majors here at Oberlin are embarrassed by their enthusiasm. I know the enthusiasm is there. I see it in classes and I see it in conversations, but when the crowd closes in, and we leave our hallowed halls, we hide it. Thank God it’s not weird here to get excited about electronic music. Thank God it’s not weird here to get excited about peace and conflict studies. Thank God it’s not weird here to get excited about ancient Greek history. We need more havens like Oberlin in this world. But why on Earth should it still feel so weird to get excited about science?

I don’t pretend to know the cause, and it is neither productive nor my intention to point fingers. I do know that regardless of the cause, the prescription remains the same. Those of us who love science — those of us who could not live without it — must continue to share our love in the hope that others will feel comfortable doing the same. In line with this realization, this letter serves as a formal offer of services: I will write a science column, as often as you will have me write it, and for as long as a demand exists. Let this letter stand as my writing sample. If you will not have me, if my writing is dull or ill-formed, or if you don’t have space or time or patience enough for such an endeavor, fine. But let it be known that you had an offer. Let it be known how you responded. The ball’s in your court.

–Eli Bixby
College sophomore