UC Santa Barbara Students for Justice in Palestine organized an on-campus walkout on Oct. 25 in support of Palestinian liberation.
The walkout took place at noon, with at least 750 people gathering at the Student Resources Building (SRB) and marching to Cheadle Hall and back. Supporters carried flags and signage in support of Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organizers handed chant sheets to participants.
The walkout was held following an Oct. 7 attack on Israel by militant group Hamas killing 1,400 Israeli civilians and subsequent Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians killing at least 4,300 civilians. For the past three weeks, UCSB community members have been protesting against Israeli occupation of Palestine and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war, as well as the University of California’s response to the conflict.
Student delegations at over 100 colleges across the country held walkouts on the same day, marking the first large-scale student protest following the Oct. 7 attack.
UCSB SJP declined to provide a statement on the walkout.
Representatives from SJP delivered speeches, read poems and read out protest safety guidelines at the beginning of the march.
One representative from SJP recited a poem titled “Before I was a Gazan” by American-born Palestinian author Naomi Shihab Nye. The poem is from the perspective of a Gazan schoolboy amidst the violence of the war.
“UC UC don’t you hide, you signed off on genocide,” protestors chanted during the march. “Keep your weapons, keep your greed, we will water all the trees.”
The crowd walked to the Arbor first, gathering in a circle and reciting chants, and then moved forth to Cheadle Hall. An SJP member read out a list of demands to Chancellor Henry T. Yang.
“Our university is complicit in this violence. They invest in weapons, bombs and surveillance tech that enables Israel occupation and genocide of the Palestinian people,” the member said.
Demands stated were “Our university divests from weapon manufacturers which arm Israel’s war on Palestine, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin” and “Immediate ceasefire, U.S. protection for Palestinians, aid into Gaza and a free Palestine.”
Yang sent an email to the campus community on Oct. 26, reiterating the principles of community and the Faculty Code of Conduct at UCSB.
“We call upon every member of our community to be aware of our different opinions, backgrounds, and histories, and to promote ‘the highest standards of civility, respect, and decency in all of our interactions,’” the statement read. “We are free to speak our consciences when we disagree. At the same time, no one should feel intimidated, threatened, or at risk because of their beliefs or identities.”
Following the reciting of demands at Cheadle Hall, the crowd walked back to the SRB, continuing to chant and hoist signs and flags in the air until the conclusion of the march.
“The occupation did not start on Oct. 7 — it started 80 years ago,” an SJP representative said during the closing remarks of the protest. “We are on stolen land, and we will fight for stolen land everywhere.”