What Rights do You Have as a Human?


Jenny Marshall

UC Santa Barbara’s semi-annual Human Rights Week will take place this quarter between November 15th and 19th. The Human Rights Board, originally Human Rights Council, hosts two Human Rights Weeks per year at UCSB, one in Fall quarter and one in Spring quarter.

Human Rights Week is about educating our campus community, but also taking real action towards improving conditions globally. That was certainly realized through the Haiti Relief Benefit and Concert last year, which raised $18,000 dollars (in partnership with A.S.) to help bring aid to the country devastated by the terrible earthquake.

Andrew Dunn, co-chair of the Environmental Affairs Board, which sponsored the event, says, “This money was donated to two organizations, one working for immediate earthquake recovery and the other geared towards implementing long-term sustainable agricultural practices in Haiti. Students in attendance responded very favorably towards the event and its goals.”

This year, the event week will focus on a different theme each day, ranging from the plight of children around the world to basic health and healthcare. Multiple speakers, events, and film screenings will occur daily.

Sophia Armen, second-year Global Studies major and co-president of Human Rights Group (not to be confused with Human Rights Board), talks about her excitement for the upcoming week of events.

“Events in the past have been incredible. I have seen the amazing impact of leaders on this campus, their time and dedication really manifest into incredible events and I know we can only get bigger and better from here.”

Jen Houston, fourth-year Global Studies student and representative of Human Rights Group and Model UN, talks about the highly anticipated Kiva banquet, one of the major events for Monday’s “Global Perspectives” theme. She says the purpose of the banquet is to educate the community about the micro-lending organization, and to raise money to donate to Kiva.

The banquet’s Facebook page announces, “Kiva offers a unique approach to poverty alleviation, in that Kiva empowers individuals to lend to entrepreneurs across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva connects the lender directly to the beneficiary and creates a global community of people connected through lending.”

Other events throughout the week will include a panel and documentary on Indigenous struggles in the Americas; a speech by a journalist from the “Haiti Grassroots” organization; an examination of California’s water inequity by the Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network; various tabling events all week in the Arbor; and much more.

Alex Hammer-Barulich, a third-year who serves as Vice President of Conference for Model UN, explains his group’s role in Human Rights Week.

“We are advocates for the United Nations and the important role it plays in international affairs, which is why we are so excited to be a part of Human Rights Week this November,” he states.

Model UN will be screening the documentary “Hiding,” produced by Liberation in North Korea (LiNK), on Tuesday, November 15th. LiNK is a grassroots program that works to bring justice to the 24 million people who live in deplorable conditions caused by the corrupt North Korean government.

Hammer-Barulich says, “We are organizing this screening to bring attention to LiNK and the work they do, and hopefully encourage UCSB students to take action in this important human rights issue.”

The week’s events are hosted by Human Rights Board, which consists of representatives from numerous campus organizations. This Fall, Black Student Union, Model United Nations, Human Rights Group, Invisible Children, Public Health Brigades, Persian Student Group, Environmental Affairs Board, Womyn’s Commission, Commission on Disability Equality, Amnesty International, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, UC Haiti Initiative, and Global Medical Brigades are all working to host events which deal with human rights issues around the globe.

Events during Human Rights Week are free for all students. In addition, Human Rights Board is always welcoming other student organizations to join. A liason from any student group must sit on the Board for five consecutive meetings to become a member.

Photo courtesy of: asNY