Gwendolyn Wu and Madeleine Lee
Executive Content Editor and Campus Beat Reporter
University of California, Santa Barbara students won’t be going to class on Wednesday—but it’s for a good cause.
Campus professors and lecturers are calling for their colleagues to let students out of class to attend the Day of Democratic Education, a faculty-led initiative to respond to concerns raised during and after the 2016 presidential elections. As part of a nationwide movement to “TEACH! ORGANIZE! RESIST!” on Jan. 18, students will be able to attend panels and seminars all day.
“In the midst of all this uncertainty and fear, it behooves us to inform ourselves and to organize to protect our most vulnerable neighbors,” Paul Spickard, a UCSB history professor, wrote in an email to The Bottom Line. Spickard will be hosting a workshop on immigration and sanctuary in conjunction with professors Miroslava Chavez-Garcia, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, and Mario Garcia on Wednesday.
Some of the discussion/panel-based classes will be held in Corwin Pavilion all day, but others will also take place in lecture halls like I.V. Theater and Broida 1610. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday students can find seminars like “Dirty Politics of Climate Change” and “Post Election: Understanding Our Responses and Reactions” in those rooms.
According to the UCSB Faculty Association website, over 50 faculty members and graduate students are participating in the initiative. People spanning the physics, art, and many departments in between will be on hand to tackle “fears and uncertainties posed by Donald Trump’s inauguration.” Visiting professors from Concordia and Brown Universities will also contribute.
“We have seen people of color repeatedly singled out over and over again during our nation’s history,” Armbruster-Sandoval, a Chican@ studies professor on campus, wrote in an email to The Bottom Line. “So many people believe that they are somehow weakening our country, when in fact, they are strengthening us in so many ways, including, most importantly, providing vital economic labor.”
Armbruster-Sandoval’s sentiments are echoed by the UCSB FA and UC-AFT at large in their website statement. With Trump’s presidential campaign targeting Muslim Americans and undocumented Latino immigrants, the collaborators want to discuss democratic values in the context of post-election America.
“Contrary to what some loud people seem to believe, immigrants are not a problem but a great strength in American society,” Spickard wrote. “Immigrants without papers are not a problem either. We will do our best to set the record straight, and to help people move forward away from fear.”
Teach-ins aren’t uncommon at UCSB, where professors regularly collaborate with the MultiCultural Center and host departmental talks tackling current events. Students regularly take the initiative to educate their peers as well.
An Associated Students staff member and undergraduate student will also join teaching staff in a panel on student activism. Aaron Jones, the A.S. Assistant Director for Community Affairs, Student Engagement and Advocacy, and Nawar Nemeh, the chief of staff of the Student Advocate General office, will be there to get feedback on UCSB’s campus activism.
“Since faculty is participating, I really hope we can work along similar lines,” said Nemeh, a third year history of public policy major. “Faculty studies the systems that put students behind on a daily basis so there’s great room for allyship in terms of our shared goals.”
However, the Day of Democratic Education is the first of its kind. As part of the larger J18 “TEACH! ORGANIZE! RESIST!” movement, educators are working on “challenging Trumpism” by emphasizing the role that academia plays in changing the world.
This involves encouraging students to engage in critical thinking about American democratic values through planned events nationwide. Three other UCs, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz, will also be participating.