UC Santa Barbara student organizations and community leaders rallied outside the Arbor on the morning of March 8 to support progressive causes and rebuff recent instances of hate speech on and around campus.
Dozens of supporters turned out for the “Hate has no place here” rally, which featured student organizers and local officials who spoke out against hate speech and advocated for promoting a culture of inclusivity at UCSB.
The rally was put on collaboratively by student organizers from Campus Democrats, UCSB Young Democratic Socialists of America, Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education Center, Associated Students Trans and Queer Commission, Iranian Student Association and Raíces de mi Tierra.
“Our campus should be a safe and inclusive space for all UCSB students; each and every one of you deserves to be recognized and powered and supported,” second-year history of public policy and law major and Campus Democrats President Audrey Edel said during the rally. “It is our goal to amplify voices of marginalized communities that exist on our campus and do what we can to promote their work and activism.”
Members of World Dance for Humanity and Women’s March Santa Barbara partnered for a dance rally during the event to mark International Women’s Day, demonstrating solidarity with Iranian women and protesting women’s rights violations across the globe.
The rally occurred one week after Charlie Kirk, the far-right founder of the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, delivered hateful rhetoric targeting marginalized communities during an on-campus speaking event, one month after antisemitic flyers were distributed across Isla Vista.
“As a united front, we rise up in the face of racism, homophobia and sexism. We will not stand idly by as right wing groups target our peers,” Edel said during the event. “We will not stand idly by as our neighbors have discriminatory flyers left at their doorstep and we will not stand idly while our school allows fascists to come into our lecture halls and spew hate speech.”
Dismal weather conditions prompted the postponement of the rally from Feb. 22, the week before Kirk’s visit, to March 8.
Jordan Killebrew, the district representative for 2nd District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Laura Capps, told the crowd he was pleased to see people engaging in the fight against intolerance.
“I’m so grateful to see so many people here right now today because that shows me that here at UCSB, we’re not standing for [intolerance],” Killebrew said. “I want us all to rally together and continue to fight and be vigilant for a better tomorrow. Please continue to come together to make a better UCSB.”
Goleta Union School District Trustee Ethan Bertrand spoke out against laws cropping up across the country that target LGBTQIA+ communities and encouraged rally goers to take their fight for progressive causes to the ballot box.
“We are here today to stand up for justice. We’re here today to stand up for equity. And we are here today to stand up against hate,” Bertrand said at the rally. “We need to make our voices heard not only at rallies, but also at the ballot box.”
Isla Vista Community Services District Director Spencer Brandt said he was proud to represent a community that actively speaks out against instances of hate speech.
“In many ways, our community knows all too well that flyers are not just pieces of paper and that words are not just noises, they have meaning and they have consequences, and that’s why it’s so important that we are here today to say our community will stand up to hate, that our community believes Black Lives Matter, that yes means yes and love is love,” Brandt said during the rally.
“Coming together, being visible, showing up and speaking out as a community with one voice is so important,” he continued. “You’re here today advocating for your friends, your neighbors, for yourselves, and it’s inspiring to me. You’re the best of what our community has to offer.”
Edel praised the work of the activist groups that turned out for the event and shared a message of acceptance for marginalized communities at UCSB.
“I want every student to know that there is a safe space for them on this campus and that they are loved and they are welcome and that they should never have to feel alone or marginalized on their own campus,” she said.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the March 9, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.