Hundreds of students are expected to gather at the Recreation Center today to rally against the likely closure of the Exercise and Sport Studies minor.

Scheduled from 12 to 2 p.m., the Exercise-A-Thon promises to pack the lawn outside the Pavilion Gym with activities showcasing and celebrating the classes at risk of closing. The expected closing of the ESS minor, which is planned to take effect June, is one of the most visible actions yet taken by the UCSB administration in its efforts to close a record $45 million deficit.

Although administrators intend for non-minor specific classes to remain open, several people involved fear that the elimination of the minor will facilitate the closure of the entire department.

UCSB is the only campus in the UC system to offer ESS courses as part of its academic catalogue. Adam Goldman, an off-campus representative for the Associated Students Legislative Council and organizer of the rally, said the ESS Dept. is essential to UCSB’s academic diversity.

“The ESS Department and its minors are an integral aspect of the educational process at UCSB,” Goldman said. “ESS classes offer practical life experience, important nutritional information and so much more that constitute a major part of what we perceive to be UCSB’s identity.”

The protest will feature activities that display the department’s healthy living mission, such as music, food catered by Silvergreens, circuit training and prizes like a Michael Jordan autographed basketball.

Currently, roughly 900 upperclassmen have elected to minor in one of the program’s four areas of study: exercise and health science, fitness instruction, athletic coaching and sport management. This number includes approximately 500 third-year students who have taken upper division classes but will be unable to complete the program.

However, Goldman said he remains optimistic that the crisis can be resolved favorably. He indicated that the administration has been receptive to student input in favor of the ESS department, and that rally organizers hope to meet with Chancellor Henry T. Yang in the near future.

Jon Spaventa, director of the ESS Dept., said student opinion will be crucial to the preservation of ESS courses.

“This is all about students and their passion for our department and programs,” Spaventa said. “We are heartened, hopeful and inspired by this overwhelming response.”