Dear CSUN Administrators,
This letter serves as a statement calling for an institutional response to the external activities of our colleague, Kenneth Ng, Associate Professor of Economics. During the week of April 18, 2010, numerous media sources reported of Ng’s involvement in the “Thailand girl scene,” particularly entrepreneurial activities promoting advice to American tourists interested in meeting young Thai women.
Although Ng argues that his personal website is a tool meant to provide travel insight for American tourists in Thailand, his project perpetuates the cultural prostitution of women in Thailand and beyond. Hundreds of thousands of people in Thailand are subject to human rights violations through the sex tourism industry, which often promotes prostitution, human trafficking, and abuse, namely against young women and children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 1 million people are victims of trafficking and sex tourism. Ng inaccurately characterizes Thai involvement in sex tourism as common cultural practice. Acknowledging the disparate social, political, and economic conditions that foster such an industry, he advocates for the exploitation of those disparities.
As CSUN faculty, we are dismayed that our students and colleagues are primarily learning of this issue through mainstream media sources that are condemning Ng’s off-campus endeavors. As a result of one professor’s lack of good judgment, there has been a public backlash against CSUN; characterizing our institution as one that condones problematic faculty involvement in cultural prostitution. As faculty who are charged with being representatives of CSUN, we are disheartened to learn that there has been no institutional statement made against Ng’s activities and we question why our administration has not taken a more proactive stand against his actions.
Although the administration has refused to professionally intervene in Ng’s endeavor, citing the auspices of free speech, we call on the administration to condemn Ng’s activities as those that violate the values and principles of the university. We believe that it is important that CSUN’s identity does not become defined by the sensational aspect of this one story. So many CSUN faculty and students are working hard to defend the rights of those who have been exploited. As a campus that prides itself on the ethnic and racial diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, it is unacceptable that we do not make a stronger statement against activities that marginalize many members of the CSUN community, including faculty, students, and staff of Thai descent; Asian Americans; and men and women in general.
CSUN Asian American Studies Department
CSUN Gender and Women’s Studies Department