Yesterday at the Arbor, members of UCSB Divest and other pro-divestment supporters from different campus organizations protested the Senate’s decision to strike down a revised divestment resolution during a three-hour meeting Wednesday night.
Protestors lined up in a row, creating a wall-like barrier, with signs describing UCSB Associated Students as “silencers of justice.” The spontaneous event was organized in light of Wednesday’s Senate meeting, during which A.S. Senators voted to permanently dismiss the modified resolution proposing divestment from companies supporting the military occupation of Palestine.
Katlen Abuata, a third-year political science major and UCSB Divest Campaign Organizer attended the protest as a representative from the Human Rights Board. Abuata said participants gathered in order to express their frustration with the Senate’s quick decision and refusal to allow divestment discussion during the forum.
“We’re exhausted and tired of not being heard. A bunch of students are so agitated and so we decided to show people of our agitation,” Abuata said. “I think a lot of students got the point that we are being silenced and that we are actively being silenced. And this isn’t the first time; it is something that occurs very often. All in all, I think it was a positive impact, embodying the truth that Associated Students are not necessarily representative of the student body.”
Abuata said the overarching frustration does not stem from disagreement with the resolution’s revised points but rather with A.S. dismissal of quorum.
“The message is that we are really empowered as students. Even if you don’t agree with the stance that divestment takes, it’s your job as a student, an educator or just as a person from the SB community to sit down and listen,” Abuata said. “We all have a right to be here. We all have paid for our tuition and are actively trying to benefit our community and university as a whole. It’s a shame — they don’t listen because they don’t agree with it.”
Protest participants came from a wide variety of campus organizations, according to Abuata, including members of UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine, students from the first divestment meeting and individuals from the Human Rights Board.
“There are very few Palestinians on campus and people forget that. So we rely on our allies,” Abuata said. “The folks that came out are allies of the community, students who are very politically aware of the problems and human rights violations in Palestine. Basically, this wouldn’t be possible without our allies, whether being students from within or outside of the coalition.”
Abuata said the student body should be critical of news sources and take advantage of resources available on campus.
“Students really need to educate themselves on these issues,” Abuata said. “If they learn about it, it will be very helpful to us all. A lot of students are not aware of what is going on in Palestine … A lot of grassroots news organizations are starting to report on it. I challenge students to take the resources that have been given to them, the opportunities that have been given to them, and actively try to educate themselves on the issue.”