Jack Shea

The University of California, Santa Barbara started off 2017 with teach-ins that intended to allow and empower students to learn about systems of oppression and combat them through venues inside and outside academia.

Hosted by UCSB English professor Felice Blake, the first teach-in encouraged students to understand why students should care about their education and what they can do with it. Blake first started by clarifying that education is not for assimilation; she stated, “It’s about transformation.”

Offering support to the group by encouraging the audience to be brave and open to different ideas, Blake stressed the importance of “activism on college campuses is where some of the major transformations in U.S. history occur.”

A sense of excitement filled the air as Blake guided discussion on using education as a tool for activism and transforming society. Being attentive to the concerns of both undergraduate and graduate students, Blake asked about the issues important to the people in the room.

Issues of poverty, human dignity, and free speech all came up in many questions of fears stated by students participating in the discussion. Rising housing fees, Trump’s threats to the media, and a society continuing to ignore interdependence all affected the discussion being listed as student concerns and hot media topics seen on social media that morning post-inauguration weekend.

Blake encouraged students to be proactive by naming roles in which they already partake to contribute to society, such as being a taxpayer, survivor of anything, or a family member and what that means to their education, futures, and places in politics. She also assured students that the issues discussed during the initial 2017 teach-in would be the topics covered during the following teach-ins throughout the quarter.

Students choosing to attend the teach-ins can take comfort in knowing that the space is a place where everyone, regardless of affiliation, is able to come together as a community to discuss solutions to major conflicts of interest, according to the organizers.

“[The teach-in] will be a space to look at imaginative and radical ways to combat racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and oppression,” organizers stated on the event’s webpage.

It is not a place to be persuaded to the left or right rather to be uplifted to a place of peace, harmony, and knowledge. It is, instead, a fast hour of intelligent discussion, inspiration, and community building.

At no surprise, Blake opened up a diverse room of students to peaceful, open discussion after getting the chance to speak with her more about her choice to partake in the Teach-In.

“I focus a lot of my research on an political activism, anti-racism, and just looking for places where people are expressing an opinion,” Blake told The Bottom Line. “I’m here to help students outside of classes, which is a major role of these Teach-Ins.”

Teach-ins will be held throughout the quarter in the MultiCultural Center.

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