Campbell Hall will be invaded today by faculty, staff, workers and students for an informational breakdown of the University of California’s economic crisis.

Beginning at 2:30 p.m., members of the UCSB community will gather in Campbell for “Defending the University:  A ‘Teach-in’ on the Current Crisis,” which is slated to go until midnight. The event will feature speakers talking about a variety of issues facing UCSB, the UC and the status of public higher education in California. 

Feminist studies professor Eileen Boris said the teach-in will cover many perspectives on the UC crisis.

“The University of California entered a crisis partially because of the cut of state funding,” Boris said. “People wanted to understand, how did we get where we are right now, where students are facing almost a 30 percent increase [in fees] and staff are facing furloughs?” 

Boris, one of the event’s main organizers, said the teach-in will consist of panels, workshops and breakout sessions. Following a free dinner, the teach-in will close with a discussion addressing the question, “Where do we go from here?”

“Some [segments] are defensive acts to stop the privatization and some to make sure the whole community has a say in what is happening and that we recognize value in those components, because higher education involves education of our minds,” Boris said. “We need to work together to make a better UC.”

Constance Penley, a professor of film & media studies, stressed the historical importance of the teach-in: a form of educational protest that she said began during the Vietnam War.

“Let us understand together that this isn’t just some kind of organic, natural process,” Penley said. “It’s now or never. We’re very close to losing not just the greatness of UCSB, but our entire system of public higher education in California.”

UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang said he appreciates the faculty, staff and students’ hard work in designing the teach-in as a serious conversation about the challenges facing the University. 

“Part of our responsibility as a university — especially a public university — is to promote dialogue about the critical issues of our time,” Yang said in an e-mail. “And among the most important issues facing us today are the future of our campus, the future of the University of California and the future of public education in the United States, and especially California.”

Celina Ayala, Associated Students External Vice President for Statewide Affairs, said she hopes to use the teach-in to reach A.S.’s goal of recruiting 100 students to participate in the Regents meeting this November.

“The UC can no longer can say that it’s the most affordable and accessible institution in the state,” Ayala, a student organizer of today’s event said. “Next year our fees will be more than $10,000, so what’s going to happen to students who already cannot afford it?” 

Jaret Ornelas, a third-year Spanish and Chicano studies major, said the teach-in should serve as a wake-up call for students to become actively involved in the economic debate.

“I see the teach-in as momentum-building and important for students to see how their University is run,” Ornelas, another student organizer, said. “It’s an opportunity for students to educate themselves and get involved.”