Chalk Statements Resurface On UCSB Campus

Matthew Burciaga/ Executive Managing Editor

TBL Staff Report

Politically-charged chalk messages surfaced at several locations on campus Monday morning, just over a week since the University of California, Santa Barbara Division of Student Affairs hosted a discussion on the content of other chalkings that appeared during the first week of spring quarter.

The April 18 chalkings include messages such as: “End racism! All lives matter,”
“Facts matter,” “PC = ANTI-Intellectual,” “Truth cannot be silenced,” “Students unite! Stop the PC Insanity,” and “We are adults…we can handle the TRUTH.” These and other messages were written on sidewalks near the Student Resource Building (SRB), the A.S. Annex, South Hall, Phelps Hall and Buchanan Hall.

The incident marks the second time this quarter that controversial messages were written in chalk around campus. During the first week of spring quarter, several messages were chalked on the sidewalk surrounding the SRB, the Arbor and South Hall. That first round included racially-charged statements such as “Black Lies Matter” and “Deport them all, Build a wall, But save the tacos.”

Though university administration officials have publicly denounced the vandals’ message content, the only ground for formal sanction is their violation of campus vandalism policy, according to Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead. Legal recourse currently available to the administration pertains exclusively to instances of vandalism outside the Theater and Dance building, where Armistead said $1,000 in damage — a felony’s worth — had been inflicted.

That investigation is ongoing, but Armistead maintained that the messages themselves are protected by the right to free speech. Since chalking of any kind is prohibited on campus, the administration has tried to move quickly to erase the writing, but is not actively hunting down its authors.

Despite the inability to discipline the chalkers, Armistead said that if they were identified, she and her colleagues would try to engage those individuals or groups in discussions about their views and the views of other students, to help foster campus civility and enforce “principles of community.”

“Those are conversations to be had in an academic realm,” she said.

At the community forum on Thursday, April 7, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn declared the chalk messages as, “inconsistent with [the university’s] core values,” and stated that UCSB Student Affairs recognizes the chalk writings as forms of hate speech. 157 faculty members signed a petition to ask Chancellor Yang to “publicly condemn the defacing of our campus.” Yang stated that he would see that the petition’s terms to fulfillment.  

Although these statements did not prevent new chalk statements from surfacing on campus, most of the recent chalk statements were cleaned from the sidewalks by Tuesday morning. Regardless, Armistead said the administration will continue to hold forums to discuss principles of community and civility on the UCSB campus.

This article will be updated as we receive more information.