VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood will be holding a march called “Rally for Isla Vista Unity” today at 7:30 p.m. in front of the Student Resource Building to encourage unification efforts within the community in response to the recent sexual assaults in I.V.

Starting at the SRB, the march will proceed to Pardall Tunnel before moving over to Del Playa Drive and finally heading back to the SRB. During the rally, COSWB will be tabling on campus to offer information and resources on sexual violence, with the help of the Campus Advocacy Resources and Education program. They will also be providing food and refreshments during the event. The rally is organized by the UCSB chapter of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, a national pro-choice advocacy group for college students, as well as by Associated Students, A.S. Commission on Student Well Being (COSWB) and Pink Research, a UCSB breast cancer awareness and research group.

Daisy Fernandez, a first-year sociology and feminist studies double major and VOX member, said she hopes the rally will remind the students and non-students residing in I.V. that sexual assault happens all the time and is underreported.

“[We] just want to remind that even though each time it happens we all feel really bad … it’s not just those times that it happens — it’s a thing all year round,” Fernandez said.

Simone Webster, fourth-year religious studies major and VOX Co-Chair, said the march is just the beginning of what she hopes will be a larger effort to get the I.V. community involved in sexual assault prevention. According to Webster, this event marks a “kind of entrance” to the other activities and work VOX hopes to do in the future.

“We’re hoping to start up a neighborhood watch with other organizations; we’re still working out the kinks on that,” Webster said. “From there, we are working on what we can actively do not only as students but as a community because UCSB students are not the only people that live in I.V. — there are Santa Barbara City College students and just residents in general.”

According to Fernandez, the group is also working with A.S. Senate to improve lighting in I.V. and adjust “outdated” laws governing how the UC deals with sexual assault.

“A lot of the streets are super, super dark and really scary,” Webster said. “We always have to tell — more girls than guys — to call CSO [officers], but it’s not addressing the actual problem.”

Fernandez said she hopes the rally will create a safe place for any previous victims of sexual assault and give them the comfort of a support group.

“Hey, we’re here for you,” Fernandez said. “Help us help you in any way you want, whether you want a day of silence or anything you want us to give you — any way we can help out.”

Webster said she hopes to see students, faculty members, advisors, the vice chancellor and other “big honchos of the school” at the rally. While she believes students can play an important role in combatting sexual violence in I.V., Webster said the issue can be better addressed and tackled with the combined efforts of students and non-students.

“I want to go beyond just UCSB students,” Webster said. “I want everyone out here to make a conscious effort to be proactive and look out for each other.”



This story appeared as an online exclusive on Friday, March 7, 2014.