UC Santa Barbara Students Shut Down Senate Meeting After BDS Vote Fails to Advance
Protesters shut down a student senate meeting at the University of California, Santa Barbara on Wednesday, after a divestment resolution targeting Israel failed to pass.
The first official gathering of the newly-elected 69th Associated Students Senate (ASS) was forced to disband after some 60 students stormed the stage where their representatives were sitting while loudly chanting, “Shut it down.”
One protester, identified by the student-run Daily Nexus as Justice Dumlao, told the crowd that this “civil disobedience” was prompted by last week’s meeting of the 68th ASS, which lost quorum before senators voted on a controversial bill urging UC Santa Barbara to withdraw investments from companies “that provide military support to the occupation of Palestinian territories.”
Senators who attended the ten-hour-long hearing reached an impasse on whether to consider the legislation “positional” or “directional.” The former requires a two-thirds majority to pass, and the latter only needs a simple majority.
While 12 senators wanted to advance the agenda, which would have cemented the divestment measure as positional legislation, they were opposed throughout the night by 13 peers. When the meeting broke for a short recess, the 12 senators left and did not return.
A second and final meeting held by the 68th ASS, during which the resolution was up for consideration, was only attended by ten senators, leading to its adjournment. The 15 senators who boycotted it seemingly did so in protest of the 12 senators who left last week’s meeting, the Daily Nexus reported.
Shortly afterwards, the 69th senate convened for its inaugural meeting and proceeded until the protesters showed up.
“You walked and you boycotted and now we are having a civil disobedience because we think that what is happening now is illegitimate and unfair,” Dumlao said.
“We believe the bill that was presented to senate,” he continued, before a peer in the crowd interjected, “was antisemitic, yes.”
“It has been stated multiple times that the bill was not antisemitic,” Dumlao retorted.
He argued that the bill should be perceived as directional, adding, “if you’re upset with what is happening, you now share our frustration with last week.”
When asked by a member of the audience whether the student body could “come together and have constructive conversation,” he asked, “How can we have a conversation that is neutral when our institution isn’t neutral?”
Another protester who covered her face with a keffiyeh told the crowd that she “will not stop this fight just because you and all your bureaucratics don’t know how to sit down at a f***ing table and look at a resolution for what it is.”
“I am a Palestinian and I have to hide my f***ing face in front of all of you for the sake of my family, for the sake of my people who are dying because of our money funding companies that are profiting off of our deaths,” she shouted.
The Students Supporting Israel branch at UC Santa Barbara denounced the “disrespect and animosity” shown during the incident on Thursday, saying the protesters “were actively screaming profanity and engaging in what can only be called hate speech towards others in the room.”
“Many senators and audience members immediately fled the scene after this abominable display of aggression and intimidation, which caused many to feel targeted and unsafe as Pro-Israel and Jewish students in a public space on our campus,” it wrote. “It is not a place that should allow for any one group of students, regardless of political affiliation or opinion, to take control of its meetings and silence the voices of other students.”
The university remains the only undergraduate UC campus to have not endorsed a BDS resolution.
A video of Wednesday’s protest can be seen below:
Last night, after 15 members of the ASUCSB senate failed to show up to their last meeting of the year, a meeting which would have picked up from last week’s agenda discussing divestment along with other matters, the 68th Senate termed out, making way for the new members of the senate to be sworn in. Considering the fact that 13 members of the 69th senate were present at the meeting, this met the requirement for quorum, allowing them to be sworn in despite the absence of numerous senators along with the Internal Vice President elect. The present senators proceeded with the agenda as permitted by AS legal code. Around 45 minutes later, the remaining senators and the Internal Vice President decided to join the meeting in order to be sworn in to their respective positions. As a motion to allow a recess was being deliberated so as to allow the swearing in, members of SJP along with a number of supporters marched down the steps of the UCEN and stormed into the meeting chanting “shut it down” repeatedly, causing the Pro Tempore to call a motion to adjourn the meeting. The apparent leader of this presentation called this act one of “civil disobedience”, despite the fact that the members of this demonstration had not only disturbed the meeting, but were actively screaming profanity and engaging in what can only be called hate speech towards others in the room. Many senators and audience members immediately fled the scene after this abominable display of aggression and intimidation, which caused many to feel targeted and unsafe as Pro-Israel and Jewish students in a public space on our campus. Associated Students UCSB should represent all students on this campus, acknowledging and actively listening to all of their constituents. It is not a place that should allow for any one group of students, regardless of political affiliation or opinion, to take control of its meetings and silence the voices of other students. We as Students Supporting Israel at UCSB publicly condemn this display of disrespect and animosity, and sincerely hope that ASUCSB is able to recover the order that it prides itself upon. We send positive thoughts to those adversely affected by this demonstration, and stress the importance of all students taking care of their mental health at this time. We understand that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a stressful topic for many students, and that this issue is not merely black and white, therefore, we welcome (as we always have) discussion and dialogue about this issue. Please feel free to message us with any questions or concerns about the events that have taken place over the past 8 days, or just to chat.
Posted by Students Supporting Israel – SSI at UCSB on Thursday, May 24, 2018