Campus Beat Reporter
In the flurry of emotions that dominated the day for many University of California, Santa Barbara students, campus faculty and local high school students joined the campus wide chorus of discontent over Tuesday night’s election results.
Dos Pueblos High School students were some of the first to voice their concerns. As part of a wave of school walkouts throughout Santa Barbara and Goleta counties Wednesday, 100 Dos Pueblos High School students joined UCSB students at a second anti-Donald Trump rally at noon.
UCSB and Santa Barbara City College students gathered on the same steps of Storke Tower only hours before in a spirited and largely impromptu collective of students airing both their grievances and frustrations at the 2016 presidential election results.
“We have a big LGBTQ friend group, so it’s not right that they have to simmer down because of Trump,” said Dos Pueblos ninth grader Stephanie Esparza at Wednesday’s rally, who sat at the feet of rally speakers with a friend. “It’s not right that he doesn’t represent us.”
Dos Pueblos administrators estimate that 600 students walked out of class and off campus grounds during their lunch break, inspired by social media posts encouraging action earlier in the morning. While 500 students gathered at the park across from the Dos Pueblos Campus on Cathedral Oaks Road, the other 100 students, under the supervision of a school administrator, walked the 3.3-mile route down Storke Road and through Isla Vista. Students marched to the steps of Storke Tower, arriving in a sea of applause from the hundreds of UCSB students already gathered there.
“Our school came together with this opportunity to make change,” said Brandi Melendez, the Dos Pueblos High School Social Equality Club co-president, as she addressed the crowd. “When I mean change, I don’t just mean Donald Trump because that’s not all that’s wrong with our country. What’s wrong with our country is that it’s rooted in hate. It grew off hate. We don’t want hate anymore.”
Santa Barbara Unified School District administrators were notified of rumors regarding a walkout earlier this morning, according to Dos Pueblos Assistant Principal Bill Woodard. Administrators advised Dos Pueblos faculty to allow students to organize as long as students, who were reminded that their absences would be unexcused, remained safe and supervised.
Students from San Marcos High School and Santa Barbara High School also mobilized at noon, reportedly holding their own 300-student strong rally in downtown Santa Barbara at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens.
Several UCSB faculty members appeared at the rally, including Chicano Studies Professor Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval. Later, department chairs of ethnic studies departments, along with the feminist studies department chair, voiced their concerns at an open forum held Wednesday afternoon.
Unlike the rally, the forum, planned weeks prior to the election, was a space for students to stray away from raw emotion and turn instead to the discussion of marginalization spurred by the presidential campaign within the parameters of the intellectual community.
Faculty addressed their own initial shock in the wake of election results, but focused primarily on how many were blindsided.
“Trump was speaking to whites on an emotional level, but I think it’s clear by the outcome that many were ashamed to admit it,” said Chican@ Studies Department Chair Gerardo Aldana in response to statistics that showed an overwhelming white demographic vote for Trump. Aldana went on to explain the reality of the “silent vote” that capitalized on fears that America was becoming too progressive too fast.
While students voiced concerns on moving forward in a world that may no longer accept their identities, many were also worried about tensions between opposing ideological groups in light of both the election and the upcoming College Republicans Ben Shapiro event that is set to be held in early December. Alumnus Andrew Cavarno told faculty on Wednesday that he had been spit on, pushed, and punched, and had his Trump hat stolen while walking in the march early Wednesday morning.
“It’s tense,” said Professor Lisa Sun-Hee Park, Chair of the Asian American Studies Department, regarding the campus climate. “People feel attacked all the way around. It is so hard for us to figure out our friends and enemies because we are made to differentiate friends and enemies in the most crass and stupid way.”
Park apologized to Cavarno, taking time to reiterate that his treatment was “unacceptable” in every way.
In response to the frustration of students in creating productive dialogue, Vilna Bashi Treitler, chair of the Black Studies Department, delivered an important ultimatum.
“It’s important to engage across social divides,” said Treitler, “but always with the goal of social justice in mind, not simply dialogue.”
Nov. 14, 8:12 p.m.: The article has been updated with a student’s name.