Executive Content Editor
This Oct. 6, the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) will host their Abortion Rights and Reproductive Justice Rally on campus. The rally will start at 11 a.m. in front of the Arbor and students will march to the end of Storke Tower, where numerous speakers from different organizations will be hosting a panel. The Bottom Line (TBL) sat down with YDSA co-chairs Caela and Uma to understand their goals for this rally and why they believe students should attend.
The Abortion Rights and Reproductive Justice Rally is part of a national student day of action with over 50 campuses participating, from rallies to marches and more. The goal of this march, first and foremost, is to respond to and protest the recent efforts that the Supreme Court and Congress have made to limit access to reproductive health care. The focal point of protesting is the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“A lot of students — a lot of young people — have felt really helpless and, you know, disempowered,” Caela told TBL. “We want to really provide an opportunity for students to understand there’s a lot of other stuff that you can do.”
UCSB YDSA is organizing the rally alongside the Graduate Student Action Network (GSAN) and the Union for Academic Workers (UAW). The immediate goal of these demonstrations and protests is to see Proposition 1 passed, which would codify the right to accessible reproductive healthcare like abortion in the state of California.
Regarding UCSB’s particular response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Caela and Uma shared how there “isn’t one thing” that they have asked from the school that hasn’t been delivered. However, they stated that they would have appreciated a more distinct response from the UCs that directly addressed and had a firmer stance on the issue.
The YDSA co-chairs remarked how another goal of the rally is to provide the opportunity to build relationships and connect with other progressive organizations, both local to the Isla Vista area and nationwide.
“As socialists, we believe in collective action as a way of leveraging our power as students and as workers,” Uma shared with TBL, “and I think that a whole new world can open up to you if you look into that, I guess.”
Thus, the rally is both a demonstration and a tabling event offering more information about how else students could protest and get involved in national reproductive justice efforts. Some organizations YDSA is communicating with include UCSB’s Students for Reproductive Justice, Students Against Sexual Assault under Associated Students, and Planned Parenthood Central Coast.
Caela illustrated the need for collaborative events, saying, “[There are] so many opportunities to make your voices heard and to take action to enact positive change between now and election season, you know? It doesn’t all necessarily have to be taking place at the ballot box.”
The co-chairs emphasized the importance of broadening involvement opportunities regarding reproductive justice, especially regarding access to resources without persecution or financial ruin. While voting is often emphasized when advocating for issues important to students, Uma explained that those in California are not at immediate risk of losing abortion rights compared to those in other states in the country. Thus, students who desire national change could do more than just vote during local elections.
“If you are a young person interested in healthcare justice and women’s rights…it’s hard to know what to do outside of voting, and I think that seeing these organizations [and] recognizing they exist, is like a really good way to start thinking about alternatives to the electoral part,” Uma told TBL.
Some difficulties that Uma, Caela, and other organizers have faced so far lie in the logistics of planning such an event during the summertime. On one hand, they are trying to rally undergraduate students before the quarter and, on the graduate side, collaborate with busy teacher assistants and other academic workers. With many on vacation, they recalled trying to reach out to student organizations and spread general awareness of this event as challenging. Thus, a third goal of rallying on campus in front of Storke Tower would be to draw media and television coverage while broadcasting their cause.
YDSA continues to encourage students who desire change both locally and nationally to attend the rally to learn how else they can get involved.
“I just want to say that this is our school — it’s a public school and we are the school,” shared Uma. “The grad student workers are the school and the TA’s [are] the school. Without us, the school wouldn’t exist so, just know, your voice should be heard and could be heard if we all come together. We’re more powerful than we think we are.”