A UC Santa Barbara student filed multiple complaints to university administration against an Associated Students Off-Campus Senator and first president pro-tempore for threatening abuse of power and harassment. 

First president pro-tempore and second-year computer science major Ephraim Shalunov denied the allegations.

Upon filing complaints with the Title IX Office, the Equal Opportunity & Discrimination Prevention Office (EODP) and the Office of Student Conduct, the student was met with delays. They were told by all three campus entities that they “will take no further action on this matter at this time” and that they have “closed [their] file on this matter,” according to an April 2 email from EODP Director Ricardo Alcaíno obtained by the Nexus.

“It appears Ephraim took issue with you and your group’s support for Palestine and the Palestinian people. This is not prohibited under the [UC Anti-Discrimination] policy,” the email read.

This case continues parallel to the U.S. Department of Education investigating UCSB for violations of federal Title VI “shared ancestry” policy following the posting of pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist signage in the MultiCultural Center (MCC) on Feb. 26. Title VI protects individuals from discrimination and harassment “based on [their] actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics … [and] distinct religious identity,” among other criteria, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The accusatory, a third-year student, spoke with the Nexus under the condition of anonymity — citing concerns for personal safety — about their ongoing efforts to hold Shalunov accountable through university resources. The Nexus gathered student testimonies from those present during the alleged incident and official email correspondence with the university. 

The student said they were with a group of friends tabling with Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), a campus student organization, outside of the Arbor on Oct. 10, 2023, when Shalunov allegedly approached them at around 12 p.m.

Shalunov reportedly began accusing the students of being terrorists for laying out a three-by-five-inch Palestinian flag on their table — which was placed next to several other flags, including the transgender flag — accusing the group of “supporting Hamas.” 

“You guys are just a bunch of fucking terrorists,” Shalunov said, according to a written testimony from the accusing student obtained by the Nexus. “You’re just a bunch of privileged white kids who think they can speak on something they have no business trying to understand.” 

This testimony was posted online on April 14 by the Instagram account @thurgiejohnson, a UCSB student posting information on UCSB political discourse.

Shalunov called the accusations an “absurd and a disgusting inversion,” in an April 18 email to the Nexus after this article was published, after no response to multiple requests for comment.

“This accusation is unequivocally false. Members of YDSA proudly supported Hamas’ October 7th massacre, and days later, undergoing the greatest trauma of my adult life, I made the mistake of asking for their basic empathy, in gloating in the murder of Jews. My friends were murdered days earlier,” Shalunov said.

The written testimony also stated that Shalunov accused the group of students of “support[ing] murderers” and claimed they had “the blood of millions of Jews on [their] hands.” 

The student alleged that Shalunov then insisted the group replace the Palestinian flag on their table with a three-by-five-foot Israeli flag he had on hand. They said he allegedly claimed the lives lost in Palestine are “insignificant” and “do not equate” to the lives of kidnapped Israeli people.

Shalunov allegedly stated, “You support Hamas when they just want to rape and kill you, and they will. You should be,” according to the student.

As stated in the filed testimony, Shalunov also allegedly threatened to use his position in A.S. to hinder YDSA on campus.

“As an A.S. Senator, I will do everything I can to ensure that your organization does not succeed on this campus. If you try to email me or work with A.S. on anything I will make sure no one sees it or answers it,” the testimony read.

Another third-year sociology student present at the time of the incident claimed that Shalunov approached them with aggression, insults and threats.

“He became really aggressive with this language,” the student said in an interview with the Nexus. “He reaffirmed that he’s never going to work with us ever again, he’s lost all respect for us and that he was going to use everything in his institutional power as an A.S. senator to make sure that we can’t organize on campus.”

They expressed concern over the threat of being silenced following Shalunov’s alleged language, especially in light of students and MCC staff being doxxed online. 

“It was just really off-putting to hear someone threaten to use their institutional power in that way to disenfranchise students, especially students who don’t agree with how the university is being run, or how the university is presenting on these issues,” the student said in an interview with the Nexus. “All the students of color and undocumented students and women that got doxxed as a result of it, that does put more fear into me in retrospect.”

Shalunov allegedly returned to the same table the next day in an attempt to further harass the group with photos of mutilated, deceased infants. 

“He comes back with his phone showing them pictures of a bunch of mutilated dead babies. And he’s like, ‘This is what Hamas is doing to Israeli babies, you need to look at this right now.’ But these photos were debunked. They were from the Syrian Civil War,” the source said in an interview with the Nexus.

After the incident, the accusatory met over Zoom on March 25 with Alcaíno to give their testimony but were told there was nothing the office could do, according to an April 2 email to the source. 

Alcaíno referenced “University of California Anti-Discrimination Policy, Section V. Procedures (A) (4), Closure After Initial Assessment, ‘even if true, the alleged conduct is not Prohibited Conduct (see Section II.A and Section III.C, as limited by Section III.E)’” in the email.

According to Alcaíno’s assessment, the incident was classified under “free speech” and “academic freedom” because they concluded that Shalunov took issue with the political views of the students, not their identities. After their initial meeting, Alcaíno further questioned the student on whether they were Muslim or Palestinian before closing the case. 

“When you alleged that Ephraim Shalunov verbally harassed you and the group you were tabling with, the Young Democratic Socialist[s] of America (YDSA), do any of the students present with you identify as Palestinian and/or Muslim? I ask, because you said that there was a Palestinian flag in a cup on your table,” Alcaíno stated in a March 28 email to the student.

After the incident, the anonymous source also met with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn and A.S. Executive Director Marisela Márquez, along with a group of A.S. affiliated students, on Feb. 28. The group discussed varied allegations of misconduct and harassment within A.S., which was later addressed in a speech given by Klawunn and Márquez at the March 6 Senate meeting. 

During the discussion, the student was advised to report the incident to the Title IX Office and file a case against Shalunov due to his alleged statement that they should be “raped and killed.”

However, after meeting with the UCSB Title IX and Sexual Harassment Policy Compliance Office, Deputy Title IX Officer & Lead Case Resolution Officer Stephanie Yahyavi said the case did not fall under their jurisdiction in a March 19 email to the student.

“After conducting an initial assessment, we have determined that the conduct presented does not fall within the scope of the Title IX Office and its governing policies,” Yahyavi stated. 

This comes after the student claimed attempting multiple alternate avenues to report the incident to the school, including discussions with a professor who encouraged them not to go to the Dean, and submitting a Bias Incident Report to the Office of Student Conduct the day after the encounter.

The Office of Student Conduct contacted the student in response to the Bias Incident Report and held a Zoom meeting on Jan. 10, in which the student gave their testimony and was subsequently told that the office would investigate the situation.

The student said the office never took action and claimed they were under the impression the incident was reported for “informational purposes only” in a March 22 email. The student said this was false and “putting words in [their] mouth.”

The student expressed frustration with the university’s lack of action and empathy despite their multiple attempts at seeking help over the course of six months.

“This was six months ago. Why is this only being dealt with now? It makes me very angry. And I feel as a student, I’m paying a lot of money to go to this university. And it’s really unfair that despite the money I’m paying, despite the effort and research that I’m putting into this university, I’m not being taken seriously and my issues are just being swept under the rug,” the student said in an interview with the Nexus.

They said their main concern is holding Shalunov accountable for his actions as an elected official on campus.

“It’s so disheartening that I’ve gone through all these avenues, done what I’m told to do to report this incident, but the school is offering me zero support,” the student said in an interview with the Nexus. “They’re like ‘If you’re feeling depressed, you can go talk to [Campus Advocacy Resources & Education] C.A.R.E. about it, or a campus psychologist.’ I don’t want to talk to a psychologist.”

“I want action. I want this guy to be held accountable for his fucking actions,” they continued. 

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


Anushka Ghosh Dastidar
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar (she/her) is the Lead News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. Previously, Ghosh Dastidar was the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2023-24 school year and the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at anushkagd@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.