Letter to the Editor: UCSB GSA Formal Statement of Solidarity for Racial Equity


The Graduate Students Association of UC Santa Barbara stands in solidarity with student activists opposing discrimination on campuses around the country and taking political action to achieve equity on campus.

We uphold UC’s principles of diversity, inclusivity, compassion, and educational equity for all, and we expect the University to assist our and other students’ efforts to make these principles a reality. We applaud the recent efforts of students across the nation to oppose racial discrimination on their campuses and in their communities. We recognize the inequalities of a system of structural racism and elitism that prevents too many from achieving a college degree.

We therefore add our voices to the growing chorus calling for social justice by redressing the built-in biases and institutional racism in our system of education by dismantling oppressive systems, such as the school to prison pipeline.

The recent attacks on Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists both on and off campuses across the country are extremely disturbing to us. According to the Guardian’s interactive database of people killed by U.S. police, over 1,367 low-income individuals, predominantly people of color, were killed in 2015 alone. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, African Americans are incarcerated at 10 times the rate of white Americans. This, and other evidence-supported claims by the Black Lives Matter network(s) and associated movements, reveal a continuing, significant, disproportionately high level of violence against people of color.

Additionally disturbing is the rise of so-called “white student unions” that allege discrimination toward “people of european descent,” and which are by definition white supremacist hate groups. Allegations of “reverse discrimination” by white supremacists seek to shut down serious debate about the growing problem of institutional racism in our schools, courts, housing, and local governments. In this manner, white supremacist organizations are attempting to hijack national debate on the murder of people of color through over-policing by instead alleging racial discrimination toward white people.

Here at UCSB, the controversy concerning the establishment of an online white supremacist hate group has centered around whether or not it is a hoax, and on whether or not any response to it constitutes an attack on free speech. Through alleging that any response constitutes an infringement of free speech, white supremacists are seeking to shut down criticisms of their racist organizations through automatic allegations of censorship.

Several local incidents of violence nearby our campus are additionally disturbing. In April 2015, Meagan Hockaday, an African American woman and mother of three, was shot and killed by police officers in nearby Oxnard, CA. In September 2015, Black Lives Matter signs posted at St. Michaels University Church in IV were stolen and the church’s plate glass door was shot out. In October 2015, the death of a Latino student in IV drew accusations of official misconduct by students who claimed authorities were too slow to respond to his life-threatening injuries.

These and other incidents continue to create a tense environment in our community. This tension is compounded by white supremacists’ calls for a white student walkout and rally at the UCSB Multicultural Center.

Thus, the UCSB GSA announces its formal opposition to this “white student union” and any other hate groups that predicate their cultural identity on violence and the denial of the multi-culturalism at the heart of our University.

We stand for and value compassion, empathy, diversity, and the critique of privilege.

We urge students to join us in solidarity against racism in all its manifestations on campus and in our communities, both locally and across the country.

We demand that university administration formally investigate this online white supremacist hate group in order to ascertain whether the motives for its inception violate the principles of community at UCSB, as well as our student and faculty codes of conduct.

We additionally demand that university administration remain vigilant with regards to any such organizations appropriating our community and values.

We finally demand that university administration actively protects students from harassment, stalking, cyber-stalking, or any form of hate crimes and hate speech.