Students for Justice in Palestine, the Department of Black Studies and several campus organizations united for a “Day of Interruption” on March 7. The day involved a campus rally and educational “teach-in” following the temporary suspension of the MultiCultural Center.

Lizzy Rager / Daily Nexus

The day followed campus discourse over the ongoing suspension alongside other University administration’s decisions, including alleged threats to free speech and UC Santa Barbara’s refusal to divest resources from companies supporting Israel’s occupation of Gaza.

Thursday’s effort was a collaboration between the Department of Black Studies, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Black Student Union (BSU) and the Associated Students (A.S.) Black Women’s Health Collaborative (BWHC). SJP and the Department of Black Studies jointly worked in solidarity against the UC.

On Feb. 26, the MultiCultural Center (MCC) temporarily closed after the posting of anti-Zionist, pro-Palestine signage on the walls of the MCC lounge during an informal gathering, the signage of which was never attributed to a specific person or entity. 

The incident resulted in polarizing reactions across the campus and on social media — several X and Instagram accounts called the signage antisemitic and MCC faculty, staff and affiliates were doxxed

SJP and JVP, who were speculated to be involved, said their organizations were not involved in the incident in a Feb. 28 joint statement.

MCC affiliates released a statement on Feb. 28, 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. 

Anonymous faculty from the Department of Black Studies released a statement on March 2 condemning the University for closing the MCC and called for a voluntary interruption of activities on March 7 “in protest of UCSB’s failure to respect academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.”

The statement also called for work slowdowns until the MCC is reopened and asserted that the temporary shutdown of the MCC “deprives multiple campus communities of a public intellectual space in an increasingly hostile and restricted academic environment.”

The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies released a statement in solidarity with the Department of Black Studies on March 7 and the Department of Feminist Studies released a statement on “Palestine, joint struggle, and academic freedom at UCSB.”

Arbor rally

Over 300 students, faculty and members of the community congregated at the Student Resource Building (SRB) at 2:30 p.m. The group wore keffiyehs — a patterned scarf representative of Palestinian nationalism — and carried Palestine flags, pro-Palestinian signage and a banner approximately 15 feet long, listing the names of individuals in Gaza who were killed from Israeli military airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and supply blockades that have contributed to widespread famine in the area. 

Lizzy Rager / Daily Nexus

As of Feb. 29, the official death toll in Gaza has surpassed 30,000 and 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltered in Rafah, a southern city deemed the last “safe zone” in the Gaza Strip, according to National Public Radio. 

After speeches from student organizers, the group marched from the SRB to the Arbor, partaking in call-and-response chants with the presence of a drum. Chants included: “One, two, three, four, occupation no more. Five, six, seven, eight, stop the Zionist settler state,” “Justice is our demand. No peace on stolen land” and “Not another penny, not another dollar. We won’t pay for Israel’s slaughter,” among others. 

Signage included slogans such as “Stop investing our tuition in genocide. Invest in people,” ”Generation after generation, until total liberation,” “Ceasefire now. Free Palestine” and “Love liberation, end occupation.”

Upon reaching the Arbor at 3 p.m. the group gathered in a circle with the banner laid at the center to hear members of SJP, JVP and BWHC speak. Community Service Organization (CSO) officers were stationed on both sides of the group.

The names of individuals in attendance have been kept anonymous by request, for safety reasons.

One SJP member emphasized the precarity of the “horrors unfolding in Gaza.” 

“We have lost count of the horror. We have lost count of the screams. We have lost count of the times we have put down our phones and cried, unable to contain the grief within the confines of our hearts” the SJP member said. “But bearing witness means we cannot look away. No matter how deeply we feel the suffering of the Palestinians.” 

Speakers called for UCSB to divest from weapons manufacturing and companies profiting off of the war in Gaza following several other UC campuses passing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bills within their respective A.S. governments, thus divesting millions of dollars of A.S. funds. UC Los Angeles, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz and UC Riverside have passed BDS bills — five of the 10 UC campuses.

“We demand the university divest their endowments and their monetary investments from war profiteers who are directly responsible for the daily violence faced by Palestinians,” an SJP member said. “Palestine is threatening to the UC because it attracts a collective of people seeking freedom from all oppression everywhere.”

Creating a “united front” against the UC’s war profiteering and international exploitation is “the most terrifying possibility” for administration, the speaker continued.

“We as the UC campus, the largest stakeholders in the military-industrial complex, must divest from all forms of imperialism immediately,” a JVP member said.

They pointed to the fact that the UCSB community lives on unceded Chumash land, comparing the action to Israel’s ongoing occupation of Gaza.

“We have an obligation to resist our investment in the occupation of Palestine, which we contribute to [in] our taxpayer dollars and tuition,” they said. “From Vietnam in the ‘70s. To South Africa in the ‘90s. To Iran. It has always been clear that students have been at the forefront of this movement and will always demand to be heard.” 

Several speakers expressed solidarity with undocumented students following the tabling of Opportunity for All, Indigenous students and low-income students, as well as condemned the University’s “colonialism,” citing the Thirty Meter Telescope Project at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. 

“UCSB invests in weapon manufacturing while being an active perpetrator of colonialism in Hawaii. UCSB invests in weapon manufacturers while we have a housing crisis, an overwhelming crisis. The time to divest is now, the time to invest in our communities, students, faculty and workers are now,” an SJP member said.

“By investing in the weapons used by Israel, our universities are directly complicit in the colonization and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

The JVP member said that Jewish values guide them to “organize and mobilize for an antiracist world,” which includes a free Palestine.

“Zionism teaches people to not listen to Palestinians. To feed into bad-faith arguments in attempts to assert power over those that are seen as a threat while trying to maintain the status quo. Not only is this divisive and ineffective, but it also isolates us from true solidarity with other marginalized groups.”

Another speaker explained the importance of panethnic and panracial unity to demand justice from the university.

“As a Black woman, as a Black person, as a minority on this campus, we do not get to just remove our identity from a space,” the speaker said. “One movement is intertwined with all. Black liberation is intertwined with all. Palestinian Liberation is intertwined with all.”

A BWHC representative expressed discontent with the A.S. response to Black, Indigenous and people of color students under attack. 

“I hope you all can recognize your white privilege. And one day acknowledge Black and Brown identities,” they said. 

“BWHC denounces the unprofessional conduct, communication and proceedings carried out by Associated Students at large,” the representative continued. “Shame on UCSB’s Administration’s lack of condemnation of Israel’s brutality. Your failure comes at the expense of Palestinian students. Shame on the UCSB A.S. Senate and the president for failing UCSB.”

After the speeches, organizers encouraged people to continue the Day of Interruption as a community at the Arbor by joining a dance circle, listening to music and reciting poetry before attending the evening teach-in.

Lizzy Rager / Daily Nexus

“Now it’s time to protest, boycott, organize and demand that the voices of the oppressed be heard. We call on students across the country to take action to stop the U.S. genocide in Gaza and force our university to divest from war manufacturers, which arm Israel’s genocide in Gaza,” an SJP member said.

South Hall teach-in

The teach-in began at 5 p.m., gathering over 250 students and faculty on the third floor of South Hall.

Courtesy of Candice Lyons

A teach-in is a discussion of a current topic or public event usually associated with political affairs. The evening event intentionally coincided with the 59th anniversary of the 1965 Bloody Sunday — in which state and local police attacked civil rights activists in Alabama who were protesting the denial of voting rights to African Americans and the murder of 26-year-old activist Jimmie Lee Jackson.

Speakers included professors Micaela Díaz-Sánchez, San Juanita García, Bishnu Ghosh and Matt Richardson, alongside former KCSB Advisor and A.S. Associate Director for Media Elizabeth Robinson. Members of Academics for Justice in Palestine (AJP), BSU and BWHC spoke as well. 

Speakers focused on the importance of student activism — especially in the formation of the Department of Black Studies and MCC — and the right to assembly, expression, speech and academic freedom. They also condemned University colonialism and demanded a statement from administration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The first ever teach-in — moderator and Black Studies professor Ingrid Banks explained — was in 1965 at the University of Michigan to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Teach-ins came out of the broader Civil Rights Movement, including the 1960s curriculum from the Mississippi Freedom Schools.

“Our teach-in today covers the long arc of the Black radical tradition and challenging global anti-Blackness through, as we will learn, various lenses, and in solidarity with the cause of Palestinian rights, which dovetails with the recent closure of the MCC,” Banks said. “All of this is aligned with academic freedom, freedom of expression and the right to assemble.”

Speakers highlighted an increase in anti-Blackness on campus following the closure of the MCC, citing hate comments posted on the Office of Black Student Development  and the African diaspora Cultural Resource Center social media accounts, despite not being directly involved in the MCC incident. Speakers also pointed to ongoing Islamophobia, antisemitism and racism on campus.

The Department of Black Studies was the second of its kind in the nation upon establishment following the 1968 North Hall Takeover. The effort by 12 Black students gave way to the department’s formation and other campus efforts to respond to the needs of marginalized students, including the MCC.

“The vast majority of the people in this room today have their jobs as a result of protest by students just like you,” Black Studies professor Sabrina Strings said.

Speakers said the MCC’s closure has suspended one of few spaces that specifically welcomes people of color.

“We are exhausted from all of the time having to call out racism. Calling out the marginalization and the silencing of our community,” a BSU member said. “One of the only spaces that is made for Black students and recognizing students of color. The one of three that recognizes and celebrates Black students is shut down. This is a huge deal. We should all be outraged.”

Strings said the struggles of Black students and Palestinians are connected. She referenced a 1966 statement by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which condemned American and British exploitation in the Middle East and Africa.

“We are not new to this; we’ve been in the game; we are not afraid to stand up to this university and say, ‘We demand rights and dignity for Black people and for Palestinians, and we demand a free Palestine,’” Strings said.

Many speakers called for more representation of Palestinian history and voices within the curriculum at UCSB.

Professor of English and Global Studies Bishnu Ghosh represented AJP and expressed the organization’s mission to incorporate Palestine into their classrooms.

“We’ve been very invested in knowledge production and dissemination about Palestinian histories, lives and futures at the universities, in our classrooms, in our corridors and our hangouts,” Ghosh said.

“How we come to know Palestine can cause harm and incite social violence, as we hear from students who have borne the brunt of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia at UCSB,” she continued. “But there’s an opportunity here to recognize historical differences and to work towards redressing the injustices that arise from them.”

A student of the Department of Anthropology spoke about an open letter written and presented to faculty by students within the department. The letter included a demand that the anthropology department incorporate Palestine into certain courses and there be sessions “dedicated to the anthropology of Palestine” and to “open forum of discussion on the topic.”

The same letter also expressed dissent with the department’s decision to promote a guest speaker event hosted by Students Supporting Israel on campus.

“After four months of silence on the subject, the department circulated an invitation via email sent on February 5, 2024 to attend an event organized by Students Supporting Israel,” they said. “ This department promoted an event, perhaps unknowingly, by a Zionist student group.”

The student referenced their anthropology background in explaining the colonial roots of the crisis in Gaza and reaffirmed their commitment to anthropology’s “potential and anti-colonial efforts, struggles and liberation for all people everywhere.”

“As anthropologists, we are very familiar with the deeply violent, racist and colonialist roots that our discipline grew from. It is because of this that we can contextualize Israel’s violence as that of settler colonial projects founded on the denial of Palestinian people,” they said.

The final speaker was Department of Black Studies professor and Chair Omise’eke Tinsley, who shared seven demands for the University.

Their demands to the University were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, denouncing the ongoing crisis in Congo, Sudan and Haiti, reopening the MCC and creating a taskforce on intersectional racial justice, opposing UC policies that allegedly censor departmental websites and other communication, hire faculty who specialize in defending academic freedom and students who have been doxxed or harassed.

To end the teach-in, Tinsley addressed their fellow organizers, stating, “listen to Black people, defend Black people will love Black people.”

The teach-in concluded around 6:30 p.m.

The Nexus will continue reporting on this issue as more information becomes available.


Anushka Ghosh Dastidar
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar (she/her) is the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ghosh Dastidar was the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at or
Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at