The UC Santa Barbara Department of Black Studies released a statement on the MultiCultural Center’s suspension on March 2, condemning the University’s leadership in temporarily suspending the MultiCultural Center and calling for a “day of interruption” on March 7. 

The Black studies department’s Saturday statement was composed by an anonymous group of the department’s faculty. Courtesy of the Department of Black Studies

The statement follows student activists posting pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist signage at the center on Feb. 26, resulting in the University temporarily suspending the MultiCultural Center (MCC).

The posted signage was met with significant community backlash and social media doxxing of MCC faculty, staff and affiliated students. 

Following these instances, on Feb. 28, the University announced its first systemwide Office of Civil Rights — including an Anti-Discrimination Office — and a new anti-discrimination policy in response to UC campus “antisemitic incidents.”  

MCC affiliates released a statement a day later, contextualizing the gathering and its subsequent consequences to the campus community — citing instances of harassment from Zionist-identifying students and comments and posters perpetuating antisemitism on campus. 

The faculty called for an entire day of voluntary interruption of activities on March 7, “in protest of UCSB’s failure to respect academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.”

“This day of interruption will be followed by work slowdowns, a tradition of day-to-day resistance employed on plantations during chattel slavery, which signal our refusal to commit extra labor to an institution that has not sufficiently demonstrated its commitment to all freedoms,” The statement read.

The Black studies department’s Saturday statement was composed by an anonymous group of the department’s faculty, concerned over campus freedoms and university actions. 

“As scholar-activists of Black Studies—a field born out of a Black radical tradition committed to global struggles for liberation, and unyielding freedom dreaming—we express deep concern for the future of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly at UCSB, as well as for the well-being of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Trans, and Queer students, staff, and faculty on our campus,” the statement read.

The MCC, the statement said, was “created in response to student activism and faculty advocacy,” condemning the center’s temporary suspension.  The center was founded in 1987 to “combat institutionalized antiblackness, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other structures of oppression on campus.” 

“To be sure, the MCC has been a critical site for naming and resisting intersectional injustice in our campus community and around the globe. As such, it is aligned with so much of what we do in our teaching, scholarship, university service, and broader praxes of decolonization,” the statement read. “The MCC’s temporary closure deprives multiple campus communities of a public intellectual space in an increasingly hostile and restricted academic environment.”

The statement said the suspension of the MCC and its social media “adds to a deeply troubling series of recent actions by the university.” The actions “demonstrate a lack of leadership during a precarious moment in American higher education.”

It cited the UC Regents’ proposed policy on regulating and censoring University Administrative Websites, following pro-Palestine statements on several university department landing pages. The policy was deferred for voting in March at the January Regents meeting due to upheaval following the yearlong suspension of Opportunity for All. 

The statement condemned UCSB’s proposed policy on “Major Events” — “which would allow the administration to restrict the scope of academic events and bring in police forces” known “to be dangerous to Black, Indigenous, People of Color, trans, and queer students, staff, and faculty.”

Faculty also condemned the UC’s refusal to call for a ceasefire “amidst a genocidal war costing thousands of lives and causing a gut-wrenching humanitarian crisis.” The action, they said, was “not unlike the long arc of antiblackness that has altered Black lives and the formation of families spanning centuries and the globe.”

“The closure of the MCC entails the cancellation and displacement of multiple events organized to open conversations about political and gendered violence, as well as to support students’ development of empowered public voices,” the statement read. “These event cancellations, in conjunction with the proposed policies described above, signal a threat to BIPOC, queer, and trans students’, staff’s, and faculty’s ability to engage in free and public intellectual activity both in person and virtually.”

“We demand that the University provide a safe environment for BIPOC, trans, and queer students, staff, and faculty to research, speak, learn, gather, and contribute to our campus community,” the statement concluded.

The Nexus will continue to report on this topic as more information becomes available. 

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Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at lizzyrager@dailynexus.com