Student Activism at UCSB

UCSB has a rich history of student activism. From the student-led hunger strike in 1989 that called for the establishment of an Ethnic Studies requirement and a Multicultural Center on campus, to the more recent rally of students confronting Chancellor Yang and his involvement with the Thirty Meter Telescope Project on the sacred ground for Native Hawaiians, Gauchos have proved time and again that power for change lies in mobilizing together.

These last few years, in particular, have been a whirlwind of social movements and protests springing up both nationally and locally. Whether for racial, economic, or environmental justice, the UCSB community has consistently shown up and vocalized their support. Below are some recent examples of student-led activism.

COLA Strike (2019 – 2020)

Via The Bottom Line

In 2019, graduate students at UC Santa Cruz fought for the cost of living adjustments because they were struggling to pay high rent on their low wages. In January of 2020, UCSB joined the movement and a full strike ensued on February 27. Hundreds of faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students came together to demand a pay increase for grad students, leading to an occupation of the chancellor’s office and a withholding of grades for the winter quarter. The strike came to an end in May after UC Santa Cruz announced they would be submitting grades due to their administration penalizing undergraduate students for something out of their control.

Black Lives Matter (2020)

Via The Daily Nexus

After the police murder of George Floyd, a crowd of close to 1,000 UCSB students and the Isla Vista community united to demand justice for Floyd and all other Black Americans who died as a result of police brutality. The student-organized march started at Storke Tower and ended at Sands Beach, with the streets of IV decorated with various posters and artwork that called for deeper reflection and gave tips on how to be an ally. A park was even dedicated to a memorial where people were invited to leave their own messages or share their experiences of injustice.

Cops Off Campus (2021)

Via The Bottom Line

Following a rise in police violence against Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, the UCSB community came together to demand police abolition on campus. The student-initiated movement not only addressed the potential revisions to the UC Police Department policies which would allow for further militarization of campus police, but it also called attention to white privilege and how people have drastically different experiences with the police based on their race. Cops Off Campus was a month-long campaign that involved a vigil to commemorate the lives lost against police brutality.

Munger Hall (2021)

Via Santa Barbara News Press

On November 5th, students and faculty organized to protest the construction of Munger Hall and the eviction of students from hotels beginning Winter quarter. Munger Hall, an 11-story building project designed to house over 4,500 students in mostly windowless rooms, made national news with many expressing their anger and disbelief that the university plans to move forward with the project despite campus-wide objections. At the rally, students living in hotels spoke of their worries about being house-less, while others voiced their frustration with the university and how they are inadequately dealing with the housing crisis by prioritizing profit.

In sum, UCSB has seen countless movements that were initiated by students and that grew to encompass the entire IV community. These acts of civic engagement brought people of diverse backgrounds together under a common goal, but that allyship also proved how influential we can be if we just mobilize and support each other.

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