The UC Santa Barbara chapter of UC Divest held a liberated zone demonstration on April 25, setting up tents inside the Student Resource Building from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in solidarity with the Popular University for Gaza movement at college campuses across the states.

Over 150 students attended the SRB takeover throughout the day. Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus

Over 150 students attended the Student Resource Building (SRB) takeover throughout the day. No counter-protesters or law enforcement officers were present, and according to event organizers, SRB staff were notified of the demonstration beforehand.

Various local organizations, including UCSB Divest and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), led workshops, teach-ins and a film screening and discussion of “Gaza Is Our Home” throughout the day. Topics included the history of Judaism and anti-Zionism, the Palestinian political prisoner movement and lobbying to protect organizing.

Banners inside of the building read “Welcome To The Popular University, For Students By Students,” “Silence Is Compliance Free Palestine” and “Generation After Generation Until Total Liberation.” Organizers also erected a mock-encampment art installation in the middle of the SRB to pay homage to other student protests around the country.

Snacks, lunch and dinner were provided to event participants at the SRB. 

Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus

The action was announced the day before on the UCSB UC Divest Instagram, which announced the location the morning of the takeover. 

Demonstration coordinators specifically demanded that UCSB be more transparent about endowment spending, stock investments and that the university divest from all companies and partnerships profiting off of war. 

The organizers insisted that the University defend activism for Palestine and “declare the occupation, colonization, and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and the U.S-Israeli genocide illegal and indefensible,” according to an anonymous UCSB Divest speaker.

A member of UCSB Divest addressed the group at around 4:30 p.m. to describe the organization’s mission. UC Divest is a coalition of organizations committed to the University of California’s divestment from war manufacturing and reinvestment into students for basic needs and labor rights, started in 2018 by students at UCLA, according to the UCLA Divest Instagram

The event was held alongside similar demonstrations on college campuses across the country. Signage posted outside the SRB called for support for the students arrested at Emerson College and the University of Texas, Austin. 

An SJP member said the significance of the SRB as the place of action lies in its origin, with student activists at UCSB demanding the construction of a building for student resource groups in 1999, especially for marginalized communities. The proposal for a lock-in fee that would go towards the center was passed in 2001. 

The UCSB Divest Coalition organizer called for a divestment resolution from UCSB Associated Students (A.S.) and for the UC Regents to divest endowment and pension funds from companies profiting off of war. 

According to UC Divest, the UC’s partnership with BlackRock, an American multinational investment company, contributes immensely to the university’s profiteering from the war industry.

UC and Blackrock reap benefits from investments in companies such as Raytheon, the Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin, known profiteers of the war industry. 

UCSB is the only UC campus to not pass such a resolution. The A.S. The Senate has failed to pass the legislation seven times in the last 11 years in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021, lacking the two-thirds majority vote required for the resolution to pass.

Asumi Shuda, Sindhu Ananthavel, Anushka Ghosh Dastidar and Lizzy Rager contributed to reporting.

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the May 2, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.