UCSB professors, advisors and faculty held a discussion Wednesday in response to the A.S Senate’s approval of $5,000 in funding for College Republicans’ event
After the Associated Students granted $5,000 to the College Republicans in early November to host Ben Shapiro, hundreds of students mobilized against the controversial event.
Faculty have begun contributing their efforts in the past week, adding often unheard opinions to a conversation about free speech, safety and whether Shapiro’s event will promote hateful rhetoric and violence.
Approximately 40 professors, graduate students and advisors gathered in a lecture hall Wednesday, brought together by Margaret Klawunn, vice chancellor of student affairs, Katya Armistead, dean of student life and Samantha Sanchez, a second-year music studies major.
“Sometimes, we’re making sure we’re not giving up a right that we’re gonna want back later,” Klawunn said, discussing the consequences of stifling speech if the administration were to prevent Ben Shapiro from speaking at UCSB.
The conversation was heavily in favor of the minority students and allies who gathered at an A.S. Senate meeting two weeks ago to oppose the College Republicans event.
Professors suggested creating a list of “sanctuary” faculty members who are available to support students who are distressed. The idea is modeled after the “sanctuary campus,” a symbolic designation with special powers.
Sanctuary campuses can protect students from deportation, certain federal immigration laws and other threats, similar to sanctuary cities. The movement has emerged at Tufts, Rutgers, Yale, Stanford and several other universities after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president, followed by multiple protests throughout the country.
At an A.S. Senate meeting Tuesday, A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez presented an alternative for students who didn’t wish to contribute to the College Republicans event.
The Compulsory Fee Refund Application allows students to withdraw their portion of student funding from specific programs and is a product of a 1993 California Supreme Court Decision: Smith v. Regents.
The court ruled in 1993 that the UC cannot force students to pay for events that pursue political or ideological goals through “compulsion and coercion.”
“This specific ruling was obviously brought up at this specific meeting because one of the administrators who has a lot of ties with a lot of these left-leaning organizations,” Andrew Gates, College Republicans president, told the Nexus during the Senate meeting Wednesday, adding that the ruling could work against “left-leaning” events.
“We have, what, one event per quarter? But if you divide 5,000 by 23,000 students … compare that with the countless left-leaning events that you know all the conservative students could, like, get a refund for,” he said.
At the faculty meeting one hour prior, Sanchez quoted comments from the College Republican’s YouTube video of the Nov. 3 Senate meeting. The comments can only be removed by the owner of the account, or YouTube if the comments are reported.
“Lets get these cunts. Comment a link to the BLM fascists facebook page, I’ll trigger these scumbags,” one comment reads.
“Dis what fatherless iq 85 african americans been taught by iq 130 jews who think whites nazist. ethnic weapons,” read another comment on a repost of the video, which College Republicans cannot regulate. Ladijah Corder, co-chair of UCSB Black Student Union, later recited the same comment to the Senate during public forum.
Tamara Afifi, professor of communication, said while advocacy may interrupt scholarly work, it is the responsibility of non-minorities to support activists. “It’s up to us,” she said.
“I think a lot of white people are scared to say something stupid; they’re scared to be vulnerable,” she said. “It’s not up to people of color to educate them, they have enough placed on them.”
Armistead, who has been a vocal advocate of students who are against the College Republicans program, said “We need to take our campus back.”
“I’m upset, too,” Armistead said. “It kills me because I’m the one who ultimately has to make this event successful.”
Other faculty members built a suggestion list, including attending the event en masse to occupy seats and arguing with Ben Shapiro point by point during his lecture.
Demetrius Ous, a UCSB graduate student, suggested planning counter events at the same time of the College Republicans events.
“The point of these events is expressing joy and love for one another,” he said. “If you see hatred, you should show it a smile because hatred is going on.”
The conversation culminated with an initial push to create buttons for faculty to wear during the event. The buttons would be emblems of inclusivity, saying “UCSB Against Hate.”
A version of this story appeared on p.1 of the Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Correction: The second comment was shared on a repost of the College Republicans’ video, not on the College Republicans account.