The UC Santa Barbara Liberated Zone encampment has continued into its second week and remained non-violent. On May 6, the anonymous group released its list of demands to the University.

The UCSB Liberated Zone encampment continues into its second week and remains nonviolent. Nina Timofeyeva / Daily Nexus

Since the encampment was erected on May 1, between North Hall, known as Malcolm X Hall, and the UCSB Library, organizers have set up around 50 tents on the expanse. Though other campuses across the nation have witnessed counter-protests and police shutdowns, there have been no major disturbances, counter-protests or escalating police presence. 

“I don’t see any reason for escalation, or there being any escalation from counter-protestors or anything so far. I think things are going smoothly,” encampment media liaison and fourth-year global studies major Ericka Bradley said. 

UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang called the encampment “unauthorized” and said that the University must “ensure campus safety, and respect the right of everyone on campus to feel safe” in an email statement sent to the campus on May 2. He said the university is “willing to work with student groups that wish to protest … without disrupting or interfering with [UCSB’s] core educational and research mission.” 

“Many students who were deprived of their high school graduation ceremonies by the pandemic four years ago are now looking forward to their UCSB Commencement and the culmination of their undergraduate education,” the email read. “We owe it to them to allow them to complete their studies in an environment that supports teaching and learning.” 

UCSB Liberated Zone is continuing to accept donations of hot food, tents and sleeping bags and hosts educational workshops on medical responses, legal advice, how to deal with policing, prayer circles, meditations, music circles and breathwork. The account updates its linktree on what donations it is prioritizing every day.

On May 7, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn, Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead and Assistant Dean and Director of Student Conduct Joaquin Beccera spoke with the encampment, according to media liaison “Pascal,” who is using a pseudonym for safety reasons. He said the effort initiated a conversation between the administration and the encampment. 

“We’re learning from [UC Riverside]. We now know and we knew before that if admin is going to agree to these demands, we don’t want just an agreeance of talking. We want them to do our actual demands and we have every inclination, every goal, that we’ll be here until our demands are met,” Bradley said. 

She said the group was disappointed by Yang’s statement.

“We are not just down for conversation because conversions have been had; conversations have been already happening and conversations don’t do much, but paperwork does. Money does. So until that paperwork and that money is done, we won’t be done,” Bradley said.

The demands Bradley referenced are that the University disclose, divest, demilitarize, academically boycott Israel, protect free speech and freedom, name and acknowledge violence and reinvest. She said organizers emailed the demands to the University on May 3, and the group has yet to receive a response.

The group based the list on demands from other campuses and the national Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and they are an accumulation of knowledge student activists have discussed for years, according to Milla, who wished to be identified only by first name and worked on the demand-construction team. They emphasized they do not speak on behalf of the encampment organizers.

“We wanted to make sure we were inclusive of not just the Palestinian struggle,” Milla said.

In the demands, the group outlined wanting the university to disclose its department of defense-related contracts and investments and partnerships with the largest U.S. weapons manufacturers — Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin — and divest from unethical materials, colonial infrastructure and largely break partnerships with the Department of Defense and other federal and state entity partnerships for military research.

“They recruit heavily from our campus. They sponsor a lot of lab research,” Milla said. 

In its clause for demilitarization, the demands called for the end of the recruitment pipeline for weapons manufacturing companies of UCSB students and the abolishment of the UC Police Department, which has an operating budget of $7.5 million. 

With its divested funds, UCSB Liberated Zone wants the university to reinvest in the implementation of a Palestine studies program, financial subsidies for Palestinian students, programs that support “precarious students on campus,” like the food insecure, and student housing. 

Since the demands were published, the Muslim Student Association and the Black Student Union affirmed their support for the encampment in respective statements on Instagram. 

“Our group has come together because we want to end genocide, and we were trying to answer the call of Palestinians and other groups who are suffering and the call of national SJP,” Milla said.

On May 6, two days after the demands were made public on the UCSB Liberated Zone Instagram, the group organized a rally from 2-3 p.m. from the encampment site to the University Center to North Hall, and ending at the encampment. In front of North Hall, they voiced their demands. Around 50 people participated and wore red in solidarity with the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Around 4:40 p.m. that day, two UCPD officers stopped a male sitting by the encampment and proceeded to search his bag and give him a pat-down due to an anonymous call alleging suspicious behavior. After inspection, officers did not find anything. 

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

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the May 9, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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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