March 22, 2019

Anti-Israel Protesters Disrupt UCSB Meeting

The swearing in of UC Santa Barbara’s new student senate board on May 23 was derailed when a group of around 60 anti-Israel protesters stormed the stage.

According to UCSB’s student newspaper, the Daily Nexus, the protesters were angry that the student senate’s Israel divestment resolution had been changed the week before from requiring a 50 percent majority plus one vote to pass, to requiring a two-thirds majority.

Shortly before the motion to swear in the new board, the protesters wrestled the microphones from the student senators with chants of “Shut it down! Shut it down!”

One of the students, identified by the Daily Nexus as Justice Dumlao, declared they were engaging in “an act of civil disobedience” because they felt the change in the resolution’s technical status was “illegitimate and unfair.”

In a video posted to Facebook by UCSB’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a student asked Dumlao if there was some way for the student body to “come together” and have a discussion about the resolution.

“The disruption was offensive and disrespectful, and demonstrates how divisive BDS is to the campus climate.” — Rabbi Evan Goodman

Dumlao responded, “When people are changing a resolution based on their own personal opinions that come out of nowhere in Week 7 of a senate meeting, how am I supposed to have a constructive conversation about it?”

A female student involved in the disruption added, “How can you ask for a dialogue when we can’t even say anything?” She later added that the disruption sprang from desperation.

Toward the end of the video, a female wearing a bandana over her face shouts, “I am a Palestinian and I have to hide my f—ing face for the sake of my family, for the sake of my people who are dying –– dying! –– because of our money funding companies that are profiting off our deaths.”

The student senate was forced to adjourn the meeting and multiple senators left the room. Michelle May, president of Gauchos United for Israel, told the Journal that she saw the protesters banging on tables and holding their phones in the faces of the student government members, which likely contributed to them leaving the meeting.

“I think it was partially because they felt it was impossible for the meeting to continue properly and because it was a little bit scary,” May said.

UCSB’s SSI condemned the disruption as an “abominable display of aggression and intimidation, which caused many to feel targeted and unsafe as pro-Israel and Jewish students.”

“Associated Students UCSB should represent all students on this campus, acknowledging and actively listening to all of their constituents,” the group said in a statement. “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.”

SSI accused members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) of taking part in the protest. May told the Journal that she saw SJP members participate in the disruption but didn’t know if they had organized it. As of press time, neither UCSB’s SJP nor the Associated Student Senate had responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Rabbi Evan Goodman, executive director of Santa Barbara’s Hillel, told the Journal in a Facebook message, “The disruption of the opening meeting of the newly elected senate was offensive and disrespectful, and demonstrates how divisive BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is to the campus climate. We urge student leaders to work for the good of the entire student body.”