Nearly 50 junior high school students marched across the UCSB campus in the rain Friday morning to protest the proposed tightening of federal immigration laws.
After entering the campus via the west gate at El Colegio Road, the students, who were skipping their classes at Goleta Valley Junior High, found themselves closely monitored by UC police. Officers following the marchers in squad cars directed the protestors off of streets and bike paths and onto walkways. Behind Phelps Hall, several marchers stopped to ask UCSB students for directions toward Highway 217, on their way toward Old Town Goleta.
The march by the junior high school students coincided with a walkout by around 200 students from San Marcos High School, which culminated in a rally in front of Santa Barbara City Hall.
Goleta Valley Junior High Principal Veronica Rogers said she urged some students who approached her regarding a possible walkout to write letters to their congressmen and to contact local news organizations.
“I told them it was really important to get their voices heard,” Rogers said Friday, several hours after the walkout began. “But, I said ‘don’t miss school over it.'”
Rogers said she expects more students to participate in a national immigrant walkout day on May 1. She said many of the students did not fully grasp the issues they were protesting, and they did not have the time to fully prepare for the march before it happened.
“Today was sort of a last-minute thing,” she said.
While on the UCSB campus, several of the junior high students led the group in chants and shouts in support of Mexican immigrants, drawing glances from university students passing between classes. After the marchers made their way around the engineering buildings shortly after noon, a UC police officer stopped traffic on Lagoon Road to allow the group to cross the street toward Goleta Beach.
It started raining harder as the marchers made their way past the Santa Barbara Airport, convincing some to flag down a passing MTD bus and jump aboard.
However, the majority of the group continued toward Hollister Road, despite saying that they were hungry and complaining about their soggy clothing.
When asked how long they planned to march that day, a girl who declined to give her name said she was not sure.
“At least until school’s out,” she said.
– Nikki Moore contributed to this article.