A new activism-oriented commission, the Commission on Culture, Arts & Joy Justice, was approved by the UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Senate this summer and is set to begin operations this fall.
The Commission on Culture, Arts & Joy Justice (CCAJJ) aims to create a coalition for underrepresented cultural student organizations and unify activism on campus, according to its founding legislation.
CCAJJ was conceptualized by education department graduate student Charlene Macharia during Spring Quarter 2022, when students began organizing in greater numbers after returning to campus.
Macharia said she noticed that despite the efficacy of students’ organizing efforts, movements were often cut short when the students spearheading the efforts graduated.
“The momentum would stop,” Macharia said. “I noticed there needed to be more organization for sustainability.”
Macharia brought the idea of the commission to the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate in Spring Quarter 2022, where third-year economics, data science and philosophy triple major Sohum Kalia authored the bill for its formation.
“We have a lot of separate student advocacy programs at UCSB, but they’re all kind of broken up,” Kalia said. “There’s no forum for all these different advocacy groups to interlink, and I think CCAJJ could be a really great place for that to happen.”
Kalia added that having an activism group formed as an official Board, Commission or Unit (BCU) provides them access to A.S. funding and increased visibility, and board members will also receive a small amount of money as compensation that “shows honor for their work.”
The A.S. Senate officially approved the commission in mid-July, according to Macharia, and has been in its beginning stages of formation since. Macharia served briefly as an interim co-chair, but the commission is currently accepting applications for board positions.
“Fall quarter is when [CCAJJ] will be fully present and people will get to hear about it officially,” Macharia said.
However, despite not beginning official operations yet, CCAJJ is already sponsoring its first event — the Black Student Union’s (BSU) Black Block Party on Oct 1.
“With this event, we were able to connect BSU with KCSB … we’re already building those networks, trying to get all organizations connected,” Kalia said.
Kalia and Macharia foresee the commission upholding ongoing activist efforts, such as protests against the construction of an extremely large telescope on Mauna Kea, a mountain sacred to Native Hawaiians, and educational workshops and programming.
“I think [the commission] is a big victory,” Macharia said. “I’ve been here many years, and I’ve seen students come and go and different movements rise up and then die down, but I think CCAJJ has the potential of building and then maintaining that momentum.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Sept. 22, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.