UCSB’s Respect Coalition hosted a panel discussion in Embarcadero Hall last night at 8 p.m. to respond to conservative activist David Horowitz’s concurrent lecture across the road in Isla Vista Theater.
The event, entitled “The Alternative: Empowering Our Voices,” featured a talk among panelists including black studies professor George Lipsitz, Associated Students Associate Director of Media Elizabeth Robinson and student speakers, followed by an open discussion with the audience. The Respect Coalition, comprised of roughly 70 student groups representing diverse political, sexual, religious and ethnic backgrounds, was formed in an attempt to create a more inclusive and tolerant campus environment.
Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Ahmed Mostafa, a third-year political science major, said the evening’s conversation included a diversity of viewpoints that contributed to constructive student dialogue at UCSB.
“I dare anyone to find anything that incorporates [all of the sponsors] working together in creating an event that encompassed a room that was over capacity and that had dialogue, not hate,” Mostafa said. “We were all able to get together as one to communicate with proper dialogue, enriching our campus climate.”
Campus Democrats Community Outreach Coordinator and Mixed Student Union Co-President Nicole Leopardo, a third-year political science major, said the event effectively addressed the inflammatory reactions Horowitz sought to elicit from his audience.
“A lot of Horowitz’s statements are not based on fact or logic … it’s like hate speech without any weight,” Leopardo said. “The last time he came, he made students cry and feel unsafe in a place they are supposed to be safe. It does not take someone insane at our campus for us to address these issues.”
Respect Coalition Outreach Committee Chair Danielle Bermudez, a second-year psychology and feminist studies major, said the alternative event allowed attendees to make a strong statement about the manner in which undergraduate funding is utilized.
“I am glad so many people came and participated in the dialogue,” Bermudez said. “Personally, I do not agree about [Horowitz’s] coming and I was extremely upset about the fact that he negatively targeted groups on campus and that my students fees were going towards that.”
In addition to promoting impartial campus dialogue, the event stimulated further attempts to foster student activism, Bermudez said.
“I am extremely hopeful for the future at UCSB and to see people working together towards equality and social justice issues,” Bermudez said. “I hope that the Respect Coalition continues to thrive and work on different events.”