Chair of the Academic Senate and Sociology Professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani along with four students from her Introduction to Women, Culture, and Development (SOC156A) class plan to march up and down Del Playa Drive Friday night to bring attention to rape culture in Isla Vista.
Participants will begin marching from Acorn Park at 10 p.m., are encouraged to wear “party clothes” and will be given posters and signs with slogans made specifically for the event. The walk aims to address issues regarding sexual assault and gender stereotypes in I.V.
Third-year sociology major and event organizer Diana Figueroa said the event idea first came about when Bhavnani invited students from her SOC156A class to discuss issues regarding I.V. with her over dinner.
“We were like ‘You know what? It would be cool if we had a march to show people in I.V. who are in the party scene that rape culture exists,’” Figueroa said.
According to Figueroa, the main goal of the march is to draw attention to sexual violence, especially against women, and its prevalence in I.V.
“We really want people to start the conversation, but we don’t only want discussion, we want action,” Figueroa said. “We want other people to make a stand and do something about it … We want this event to start a catalyst of other events about rape culture and see this issue gain more attention.”
First-year political science major Akshaya Natarajan said she is looking forward to participating in the march and thinks it is vital to shed light on cultural practices in I.V. that promote— instead of combat — instances of sexual violence or harassment.
“As a first year, I don’t have much experience with people and the direct effects of rape culture, but it’s easy to see the direct effects with people using rape as a slang term and unnecessarily catcalling women in the street,” Natarajan said. “I think the march on DP is really cool and I’m excited to go.”
Demonstrators plan to march on Friday at 10 p.m., when parties typically occur and when Del Playa is generally crowded, in order to make a statement that aims to strongly impact students and I.V. residents.
“Rape happens more commonly during parties where people are intoxicated, and marching on Del Playa, where the most amount of parties occur with the highest amount of people, will be confronting the problem where it happens most,” Figueroa said. “It will be spreading the message to everyone that this stuff happens and it can happen to anyone partying out there.”
According to Natarajan, marching on Del Playa will send a powerful message to students and I.V. residents occupying parties on the oft-crowded streets Friday night.
“I think that they’re doing that on DP on a Friday night will really have a lasting effect,” Natarajan said. “It’s a bunch of people walking together, making a stance and calling people out who participate in rape culture. I don’t know how it will turn out — there’s always risks walking in a big group on DP, but I think it will be powerful one way or another. ”
Figueroa said she expects to have a couple hundred people attend, however according to her the significance of the event should not be measured by how many people participate, but rather by the march’s impact on students and I.V. residents.
“It doesn’t really matter how many people walk with us so long as people see us and see what we’re standing for and what we’re talking about,” Figueroa said. “And this hopefully starts dialogue among other people while they’re out partying and remind them that this stuff happens when people do party.”
According to Figueroa, fear of sexual assault or harassment should not be an issue in I.V., as individuals should feel secure in their neighborhood.
“I think at the end of the day, we just want women to feel safe going out,” Figueroa said. “We want men to realize that they play an important role in rape culture and that we need their help in ending rape culture as well. Unfortunately it exists and we have to teach people not to rape and warn women about the dangers of going out and dressing a certain way. It shouldn’t be an issue.”
Associated Students Senator and a second-year physics major Liam Stanton said it is “incredibly important” that issues regarding sexual violence and harassment are addressed by “everyone in the UCSB and Isla Vista community, male, female, or otherwise.”
“As a Senator, I particularly view it as one of my first responsibilities to support any movement seeking to combat rape culture and its implications in society, especially given the events which have historically plagued our community,” Stanton said.
According to Natarajan, students are ultimately responsible for stopping the abuses associated with rape culture in I.V.
“Rape culture starts and ends with the students,” Natarajan said. “UCSB can implement all the rules they want but there’s still an underlying problem, and we need to make a stand.”