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Campus Teach-In to Discuss Occupy Movement

December 5, 2011

As the Occupy social movement sweeps across the nation, UC Merced students, faculty and staff have planned a teach-in on campus from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 in an effort to assist the campus community to better understand the many issues that have been raised.

The teach-in — which be held in the Joseph Edward Gallo Gymnasium — will provide diverse perspectives from students, faculty and staff on the economic, political and social factors that have led to the emergence of occupations as well as California’s ongoing public education crisis.

Members of the campus community are invited to drop in at any time during the event. At the conclusion, the discussion will be opened to audience members for comments or questions. Faculty members will share their views and research as it relates to this and other movements.

Sociology Professor Nella Van Dyke said she is participating in the event because like everyone at UC Merced, she cares about the future of education in California. Van Dyke studies social movements and will discuss the factors that make movements successful and how they relate to the Occupy movement.

I think it’s positive to see students and other parts of the campus community engaging in dialogue and making their voices heard,” Van Dyke said. “A teach-in is a means of focusing on a topic, engaging in dialogue and providing information to the broader campus community in a way that can bring people together who might otherwise not have the opportunity to interact in the classroom.”

History Professor Sean Malloy, who will give a historical context by examining the UC system as a catalyst for social change — including the Free Speech Movement and the Third World Student Strike in the 1960s — said he is looking forward to hearing what students, staff and his fellow faculty have to say. 

I don't claim to have the solution, nor do I want to sit around and wait for the regents or the governor to tell us what to do,” Malloy said. “I think the first step is to have a probing, critical and democratic conversation amongst the diverse segments of our university community about the challenges we face.” 

Political science Professor Nathan Monroe will speak about the institutional sources of California’s budget crisis and possible reform solutions, and literature Professor Nigel Hatton will discuss the concept of solidarity in freedom struggles and the Occupy movement.

UC Merced students J. Daniel Croswhite, Jason Yoon, Emmett Buentiempo and Jeffrey Karahamuheto — who recently traveled to New York to interview Occupy Wall Street participants as part of a research project — will share firsthand accounts of those involved in the movement.

“I believe that it is our duty as members of the global community to maintain vigilance against or rise in support of current shifts in popular sentiments around the world that affect our modern ways of living,” said Croswhite, a senior history major. “As historians, we have tried to remain purely objective in our research and are attempting an academic dissemination of the recorded data.”

Members of the Occupy UC Merced group — who gathered outside the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library and peacefully demonstrated last week — and members of UC Merced’s Staff Assembly will also participate in the event.

The purpose of the teach-in — which is cosponsored by Associated Students of UC Merced, the Graduate Student Association, the Academic Senate, the Office of the Chancellor and the Division of Student Affairs — is to create an open discussion and allow individuals an opportunity to create a scholarly dialogue around important social issues.

A schedule of speakers and topics will be available prior to the event.