UC Santa Barbara administrative figures gave unclear answers on who could responsibly negotiate the UCSB Liberated Zone demands over multiple encounters last week, according to the encampment’s media liaison. This leaves the encampments at a standstill in meeting demands as it enters its third week. 

Campus administration gave unclear answers on who could responsibly negotiate the UCSB Liberated Zone demands per their job role. Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus

The encampments, which began on May 1, follow a nationwide call from the national Students for Justice in Palestine for campuses to act in solidarity of Palestine, and meet their demands presented to the University.

“We really do want to, as much as we can, make sure that university remembers that we are here and that we are here to disrupt things because business should not be as normal as usual,” Pascal, an encampment media liaison who went by a pseudonym for safety reasons, said.

The encampment demands the University to disclose, divest, demilitarize, academically boycott Israel, protect free speech and freedom, name and acknowledge violence and reinvest, according to a UCSB Liberated Zone Instagram post

As of May 14, organizers erected 105 tents on three lawns between North Hall, or Malcolm X Hall, and the Davidson library. More CSOs were stationed nearby the encampment — which saw two to four on standby prior — following escalated interaction during a die-in demonstration on May 13 in front of the library, media liaison Rebecca, who went by first name for safety purposes, said. 

Students from the encampment sat in front of the Paseo West library entrance in the afternoon for a die-in on Monday, May 13, and got into verbal altercations with university administration. Some students were shoved or kicked by individuals leaving or entering the library, according to Rebecca.

On Tuesday, May 14, the UCSB Sociology Department affirmed their support for their encampment in a statement. It follows respective statements from the Muslim Student Association and Black Student Union

According to Pascal, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn talked to the encampment on Tuesday, May 7, and said their demands were not under her jurisdiction.

“As representatives of the Division of Student Affairs, demands that have to do with investment or ethical research are not in our ability or under our jurisdiction,” Klawunn said, according to a UCSB Liberated Zone Encampment Instagram press release. 

Chancellor Yang visited the site unannounced at 1 a.m. on Thursday, May 9. According to the same press release on the UCSB Liberated Zone Encampment Instagram, Yang said he admired their dedication and that Klawunn “has the power to act” on the encampment’s demands.

“We believe that Chancellor Yang decided to arrive at an early hour in the morning, specifically in order to avoid having the presence of the camp and to hold full accountability for his actions and his continued action in terms of continuing to fund the war in Gaza,” Pascal said. “This is a way to avoid accountability, and it is a way to try to divide the encampment, is inherently dishonest and it shows that his negotiations aren’t in good faith because if they were he would come here himself during daylight hours and speak publicly.”

Rebecca and the press release referenced a similar series of events during the 1968 Black Student Union (BSU) North Hall Takeover when then Chancellor Vernon Cheadle came to talk to the group at 12 a.m — a request BSU refused at the time. 

On Friday, around seven encampment participants marched through Gaucho Transfer Friday tabling chanting, “disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.” Some of the signs propped up by the University near Campbell Hall for the event were taped over by signs reading “your $ has killed 30,000” and “anti-zionism ⧣ anti-semitism.” 

Pascal said the effort was reactionary and done by an autonomous group of students.

“They decided to do that because they felt inspired to do so. And they felt that that was a way to express all of the sentiments that have been going on here,” they said. 

The university has not made a public comment or attempted further conversations since the talks with Klawunn and Yang last week, Rebecca said. 

She added the encampment is continually getting donations from individuals from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, such as hot meals and tents. The group issues a regular donation list on its Instagram.

“We are not a dangerous group. We have been peaceful this entire time. And if the university decides to escalate by adding more security forces, that is not because we have done something, that is because they do not want to hear us out,” Pascal said.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) 4811, representing academic student employees, filed Unfair Labor Practice on May 3, in response to the UC’s actions “against peaceful protestors,” including the UC San Diego and UC Los Angeles arrests of protestors. The UAW 4811 authorization vote concluded on Wednesday, May 15. At full capacity, the strike would have 40,000 teaching assistants across the UC uproot their work. Several teaching assistants are involved in the encampment at UCSB, but it is unclear how many would go on strike.

“Our biggest plan is just de-escalation; do not engage. We have a lot of people here that are vulnerable. We have a couple of handicapped people, people who are visually impaired; we have people with dogs, with children,” Rebecca said. “We’ve made this a very peaceful space and a very safe space even though it is a political encampment. It is a sense of community on campus and we don’t want to ruin that by starting anything or escalating in any force, and it’s up to the university on how they want to handle that.”

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 16, 2024 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