Alex Cabot & Satory Palmer
Faculty, students and concerned citizens from across California gathered at Campbell Hall at UCSB on Wednesday to participate in a historic “Teach-In” that addressed the budget crisis currently enveloping the University of California. The eight-hour event, attended by an auditorium of rotating audience members, featured a diverse list of speakers who weighed in on the likely causes of the crisis, and potential solutions to help solve it.
“We need to push the UC to be a progressive factor for change in California,” said Christine Petit, President of UAW Local 2865, a union which represents TAs, readers, and tutors employed by the UC.
“We’re actually seeing first hand who’s bearing the brunt of this crisis, [and it’s] the students.”
Budget cuts have already cut a wide range of programs and services at UCSB. Senior Erica Stenz described her personal dismay that Exercise Science is being cut as a possible major, and described the value that she has derived from her personal studies in the subject.
Nayra Pacheco, a UCSB student and representative of IDEAS (Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success), spoke of the financial difficulties undocumented immigrants face who are enrolled at UCSB, including her own personal struggle to pay her tuition bill out of pocket. Pacheco was forced to take a leave of absence from UCSB in spring quarter, she said, as a consequence of financial hardship. Although back in attendance this quarter, Pacheco said increasing tuition continues to be a huge issue for her.
Current graduate student in the Department of Geography and President of the Graduate Student Association at UCSB, Reginald Archer, spoke of the shortfall in opportunities facing graduate students in general because of budget cuts that have affected faculty quality at the University.
Despite the grave topic and rainy weather that permitted throughout the day, Archer emphasized to need to remain optimistic and proactive.
“The rain is a sign of rejuvenation and rebirth,” Archer said. “We are here to move beyond just complaining” [We are here] to come together in solidarity, to make a difference.”
Amanda Wallner, a UCSB senior and President of Campus Democrats, expressed similar optimism. Although acknowledging the problems throughout the University of California, including the increase in tuition fees and the reduction in student jobs, she said students had inherent power through their sheer numbers.
“There are 200,000 students in the UC system, and if we can be brought together under a common goal it gives us immense power,” she said.
Wallner said a lack of information is a pervasive problem amongst students, and recognition of the most important issues facing the University is necessary before appropriate action can be taken.
“Students know there are problems on a lot of UC campuses,” she said. “What they don’t know is why.”
Education of UC students on the broad consequences of Califronia budget crisis was emphasized even before the Teach-In’s official start at 2:30.
“[The University] is facing an imminent crisis,” said Eileen Boris, Chair of the UCSB Feminist Studies Department, to the crowd gathered outside Campbell Hall before the event began. “Come out and protest, but through knowledge.”
In a piece to communicate the meaning of the Teach-In, UCSB History Professor Nelson Lictenstein described the determination of Clark Kerr, the first Chancellor at UC Berkeley and twentieth UC President, to uphold the ideal of more equitable and accessible higher education. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State of California are the ones to blame for the current crisis, Lictenstein said.
“We are presiding over nothing less than the destruction of a great university system,” said Lictenstein, eliciting applause from those gathered in attendance.
-Jenny Housel contributed to this article.