Nov. 21 “Letters to the Editor”

Finding pleasure in a common ground

I write now in support of Dr. Tech’s recent article, which begins “I have awoken to an America that I do not recognize.” He and I agree that now that we are woke, finding common ground “is the one hope that we have to transcend our growing national chasm of ideologies.” As we search for a shared humanity that joins Republicans and Democrats, I submit that, like Dr. Tech, we look to science for solutions. I’d like to suggest the mammalian 5-HT2A receptor as a useful starting point.

As venerable Wikipedia reminds us, the 5-HT2A protein is the main excitatory receptor for serotonin in humans and related mammals. Across political and zoological spectra, 5-HT2A produces the feeling of elation that comes about when someone gets a good grade on a midterm exam, performs a selfless act for others, or fantasizes about locking up a political rival. Though the activities appear on the surface to be quite different, this miraculously bipartisan biomolecule grabs us all by the serotonin, moving on us like an itch we simply have to scratch.

While calling attention to our shared capacity for joy, the 5-HT2A receptor also reminds us of our shared capacity for suffering. Because of its function in neurotransmission, the 5-HT2A receptor is vulnerable to a variety of viruses including the JC virus (the John Cunningham virus—not to be confused with other JC viruses). A product of contaminated water from poorly maintained urban sewage systems, JCV calls attention not only to the infrastructural challenges that vulnerable 5-HT2A receptors face but also to the compassion that we must display toward receptors with this preexisting condition. While Dr. Tech modestly acknowledges that he is “not a political scientist,” he and I know that the next administration has concrete plans to address such problems after the necessary but regretful demise of Obamacare.

Towards the end of his article, Dr. Tech imagines having a dialog with a Trump supporter. Like Dr. Tech, this imaginary person attended a Trump rally and reveled in its “festive atmosphere with families, kids dancing and no physical violence.” Inspired by this vision, Dr. Tech concludes: “We are operating with caricatures of one another, you and I, and it is to our mutual interest to understand how those false images come about and to what purpose.” Here again we need to look to the 5-HT2A receptor for guidance. Because it is the keeper of pleasure, since the salad days of ergotamine experimentation, the 5-HT2A receptor has proven to be a fruitful target for antipsychotic and psychotropic drugs. Such drugs might enable us to imagine Dr. Tech’s thought experiment as real, allowing us to cast aside harmful fantasies (say, the appointment of a White Nationalist to the position of chief strategist for the executive branch) and embrace a more tolerant image of the next administration that we’d all prefer to imagine.

H.L. Mencken once wrote, “The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.” The mammalian 5-HT2A receptor, working in tandem with Dr. Tech’s article, offers a unique opportunity to test the validity of this celebrated statement of democracy. I suggest that our community not squander it.


Wanda Tinasky

Corvallis Resident and University Supporter

A time for optimism

We live in a very divided country but the overwhelming majority of Americans agree we are headed in the wrong direction. And yes, our President Elect has said some very hurtful things to a number of people and I hope and expect that tone will change. He is by no means a perfect candidate but I do expect he is very sincere in wanting to improve the economy and the lives of ordinary Americans. Lots of people are fearful both due to his poor choice in language and in very large part to grossly dishonest reporting by the media. Trump won because our economy is weak and our leaders from both parties have failed us; the GOP deserved to lose in 2008 and the Republican party was recently torn apart and held accountable for their failures to act in the best interests of the American people. Obama’s progressive policies failed miserably. We just experienced an incredible event; a bloodless, populist revolution which hopefully results in better lives for many more of us. I truly believe this is an incredible example of American exceptionalism; the people taking the reins of power back peacefully through free and fair elections and demanding their elected leaders drain the swamp in Washington and put the interests of the American people first. A newly elected president from completely outside our corrupt political system, beholden to no special interests, has an incredible opportunity to effect real positive change for the American people. Let us help him succeed.

Eric Cheney

OSU faculty member

Open letter of solidarity from the WGSS faculty and staff

We, the faculty and staff of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University, wish to express our disappointment, grief and anger regarding the 2016 presidential election. We are in solidarity with all individuals and communities targeted by a Donald Trump administration as well as those being targeted right now by Trump supporters who see the election as permission to enact violence on marginalized people and communities.

We believe that Trump represents the very worst of U.S. society. He has openly and explicitly expressed misogynistic, racist and white supremacist, homophobic, ableist, Islamophobic, anti- Semitic, xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments and values. He has sexually assaulted multiple women. He has induced his followers to incite violence. He has built alliances with explicitly white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations and people. And he promises greater state violence through increased militarism, detainments, deportations and the threat of internment camps. We reject calls to wait and see what sort of president he will be. We have already lost members of our trans and queer and Muslim communities since and because of the election, and we are here for those who can’t afford to wait.

We directly oppose a Donald Trump presidency, and we pledge to resist any efforts by a Trump administration to reduce or deny civil and human rights to any vulnerable or marginalized population. We call on our university to declare Oregon State University a Sanctuary Campus, joining a national movement of universities, colleges and cities, and refuse to accommodate Trump’s deportation orders. We also express our solidarity with members of vulnerable communities in our classrooms, on our campus, and in our larger communities. To those of us who identify as Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ+, undocumented, immigrants, Latinx, Black, Indigenous, Asian Pacific American, people of color, women, feminists, people with disabilities, and survivors of sexual violence, we honor and affirm our dignity and worth, and we are here for you and with you.

Please know that we are deeply committed to making our program and our campus affirming and inclusive, and we will continue to organize and work together to do so.

In Solidarity,

Whitney Jones Archer

Instructor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Nancy Barbour

Writing Advisor and

Instructor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Bradley Boovy

Assistant Professor of World Languages and Cultures and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Liddy Detar

Instructor and Advisor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Patti Duncan

Associate Professor and Coordinator Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Michael Floyd

Instructor: Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Ecampus Advisor: World Languages and Cultures

Kryn Freehling-Burton

Senior Instructor and Ecampus Advisor Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Janet Lee


Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Ron Mize

Associate Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the School of Language, Culture, and Society

Dr. Nana Osei-Kofi

Director of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination Program and Associate Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. H Rakes

Assistant Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Leonora Rianda

Office Specialist

Ethnic Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Susan Shaw


Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Elizabeth Sheehan

Assistant Professor of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Mehra Shirazi

Assistant Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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