Student Activists to Bring Speakers to Campus for Annual Convention

Madeleine Lee/The Bottom Line File Photo

Shomik Mukherjee
News Editor

Student activists at the University of California, Santa Barbara will bring a handful of political speakers to campus for the upcoming 12th annual Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Convention on Oct. 21 at Corwin Pavilion.

Santa Barbara Student Activist Network (SAN) — the politically-charged, student-run organization that started just a year ago — will host the speakers and speaking panels. They include a protester present at the controversial Charlottesville rally in August, an East Los Angeles organization rallying against police brutality, and SDS chapters at other college campuses.

“SDS chapters are often the leaders of the radical student movements at their universities, so it’ll be really cool to get to know them personally,” said Eric Villalobos, a fifth year religious studies major who organized the convention, when he was interviewed by The Bottom Line.

Villalobos founded SAN a year ago and ran the group through a host of demonstrations, rallies, and protests, before turning over the post of “head organizer.”

“We formed [SAN] in response to the idea that UCSB is a party school, that no one would do anything over here,” he said. “It was in response to tuition hikes my sophomore year. That’s bullshit! People definitely care when their tuition goes up. It’s just a matter of organizing them.”

Organizers had their busiest year in 2017, in the wake of tuition hikes and, of course, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. 

“We’re getting great feedback, even on an individual level,” Villalobos said. “It’s not just Trump; it’s the systems that put him into power — and he’s just bringing it out in a blunt way.”

The convention will bring together left-leaning activists and speakers from campuses around the nation. Villalobos is confident for the convention, along with the future of activism.

“People are excited to get involved,” he said. “They’re ready to put up the fight.”

A version of this story appeared in The Bottom Line Volume 12, Issue 2.