A.S. Beat Reporter
On Oct. 31, near The Arbor, a demonstration was held in support of survivors of sexual violence following at least five counts of sexual assault in Isla Vista during the month of October.
Organized by campus activist groups UCSB Intersectional Feminists, Take Back the Night, and M.U.J.E.R., hundreds of UCSB students came together to acknowledge survivors, provide education and resources, and “demand accountability” from the university. Groups like CARE, CAPS, Catcalls of Santa Barbara, and Students against Sexual Assault also aided in the demonstration.
A petition was circulated, stating that signatories stand with survivors, and that they will do what they can to ensure well-being, support, and safety for survivors. Furthermore, the petition (which has garnered nearly 1,100 signatures) called for more transparency and communication from the university regarding how they plan to handle allegations of sexual assault, as well as how they plan to keep survivors supported.
Alana Ulloa, a second year history major, and Ky Youssef, a third year sociology and environmental studies major (two representatives of UCSB Intersectional Feminists), as well as Eli Diaz (a second year pre-economics major and independent activist) helped set up the demonstration and talked with The Bottom Line about their hopes for the event.
While some UCSB students misidentified it as a protest, Ulloa was quick to clarify that “this is not a protest,” specifying that they were not protesting against fraternities or Greek life, with Diaz adding that “first and foremost, we’re here in solidarity with survivors.”
Ulloa, Youssef, and Diaz expressed dissatisfaction with the response from the university regarding the five attacks in Isla Vista. “It feels like survivors are not being acknowledged … we need more and better communication from the school,” said Youssef.
Some participants at the demonstration agreed, with one anonymous student telling The Bottom Line, “As a survivor … these emails are not good for my PTSD … constantly [appearing in my inbox] with triggering language,” another saying the emails made them feel “upset and scared,” and another visitor saying, “It just feels like a box being checked off … nothing more.”
Diaz also cited the lack of transparency between the school and the student body regarding demands written two years ago. On May 3, 2017, a group of students led a sit-in at Cheadle Hall and presented demands to Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn, and Associated Students Executive Director Marisela Marquez, who signed off on them after hours of negotiation.
However, according to Diaz, the university has not communicated their progress effectively, as promised in the final demand of the document. This claim is at least partially substantiated — for example, the university has not fulfilled (or communicated that they have fulfilled) the first demand, which states that UCSB will “create and fund a survivor resource center…”
The eighth demand, which states that the university must work with Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) to add street lighting in I.V., also has not seen much progress. This demand is an item IVCSD President Spencer Brandt is still working to secure funding on, as stated in a 10/2 A.S. senate meeting.
One student, Ryan Long, a fourth year engineering major, felt that “the university … fails to give survivors agency,” with third-year biopsychology major Natasha Auer adding that “it feels like they have their own interests at heart … at the end of the day, [the administration] doesn’t go home to Isla Vista.”
According to Diaz, this is only the first step. “This is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation that needs to happen … Demands were made in 2014 and 2017 … but not followed up on.” However, UCSB Intersectional Feminists plans to continue the movement, and help survivors as best they can.
Students against Sexual Assault will be hosting a town hall on sexual assault at the Loma Peloma Center on Nov. 14 from 6-8 p.m.
Sherry Jamez Zeng and Noe Padilla contributed reporting to this article.