Professor Oifer grew up in the Los Angeles area, and currently lives there with his wife and their cat. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from UCLA, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from USC. Professor Oifer has taught a variety of political science classes at SMC since 1999, though his primary teaching load focuses on political philosophy courses. He’s always in the middle of a book and, very often, that book is a book of political philosophy. In addition to teaching, Professor Oifer has served in a variety of campus roles including Academic Senate President, and most recently as Scholars Program Faculty Leader, as a member of the Care and Prevention Team, and as one of the college’s Ombudspersons.
Teaching Philosophy/Equity Statement
Professor Oifer teaches his courses with the intention of helping every student learn and thrive. Students are given many activities, assignments, and opportunities to practice the skills and to gain the understanding they need to succeed and earn good grades. Professor Oifer works on the assumption that learning new things often can be difficult and takes effort. Rarely do we succeed at something new the first time we try it. Think of the experience of learning to talk. No one simply starts speaking in complete and complex sentences. Before speaking, almost everyone babbles, then speaks single words before speaking in full and clear sentences. The babbling and single words weren't failures. They were practice for talking and communicating in sentences. Learning in Professor Oifer's class is similar to learning to speak. There will be lots of practice to help students improve. If students do the practice and get the feedback they will very likely succeed and get a good grade.
Professor Oifer is committed to advancing racial equity as SMC. He roots his approach to advancing equity in humility. He recognizes his privilege and how that privilege limits his ability to automatically understand what needs to be done in any given situation. Professor Oifer never assumes that his experience as a student gave him any clue about his racially minoritized students' experiences. As a teacher, he does not assume his ability to predict his students' perspectives or needs. Instead, he looks to his students, takes an inquiry-based approach, and relies on what empirical research tells us about what students of color need him to do to support their success. Serving racial equity for those students also means that he always will seek to treat his students as unique human beings with unique experiences, rather than to assume that if he treats them, all the same, he will be acting fairly. He continually works to implement practices that better serve students of color and move us toward achieving equitable outcomes for racially minoritized students.