Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative Takes a Stand Against Sexual Violence


Alex Albarran-Ayala
Staff Writer

After the recent incidents of sexual violence, members of the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative (SBSHC) held an event on Friday, Apr. 4, called Steps Against Sexual Violence. The event consisted of three phases: a night walk starting in Little Acorn Park, followed by a vigil and a “rally for respect.”

At 8 p.m., a group of students gathered to begin a 20 to 30 minute walk, which first headed to Del Playa Drive and then finished at St. Michael’s University Church. This group consisted of 30 to 40 students, said Sara Kathib, third-year anthropology and history double major and SBSHC member.

Before the walk, however, members of the SBSHC began to give out pre-made signs to those present at the park. According to event-goer Melissa Sival, fourth-year global studies major and member of Sigma Kappa Chi, some of the signs read, “Drunk ? Consent” and “If you see something, say something.”

Because this was a night walk, event attendees would sometimes raise their signs higher up in the air for passersby to see.

“Some people had asked, ‘what do those signs say?’ or they were just wondering what exactly we were doing, and some [attendees] would just respond ‘oh, we’re rallying for respect,’” Sival said.

After arriving at St. Michael’s, attendees took part in a short vigil. First, the vigil was led and introduced by Reverend Nicole Janelle, who then performed a ritual, based on a moment of silent for the victims of sexual violence. Then Olivia Happel, a St. Michael’s helper and graduate student at Pacifica Graduate Institute, gave a blessing and then an anointment with oil to those who wished to be anointed. Finally, helper and UCSB student Charmaine Bennett gave the closing player.

With the vigil finished, Janelle prompted attendees to “engage with one another or yourself over art” at a small station, where new signs were. The most common read “Stop Sexual Violence.”

Actively displaying signs, just as in the night walk, the attendees headed over to Embarcadero Hall plaza for the final stage of the event.

At Embarcadero Hall, music was played, snacks were given, and so this proffered an opportunity for attendees to mingle with peers and friends. This stage of the event ended early, as not many public comments were said and students had begun leaving early.

Brian Granger, an SBSHC member and sixth-year UCSB graduate student in theater and dance, was the main organizer of the Steps Against Social Violence. Most of the event helpers were SBSHC members. In addition, within SBSHC, the Patti Newman house was the most represented house at the event. According to Granger, Newman house’s theme is community service.

“We called this event Steps Against Social Violence because even though some people in the community might criticize it by saying that it’s a small gesture…the point is that it’s a step,” Granger said. “It’s one step, two steps that kind of add up, and every effort is exactly that, it’s an effort, and it’s better than not doing anything.”