UCSB Undocumented Student Support Group Responds to “Deport Illegals Now” Vandalism

UPDATE 9:00 PM EST: UCSB issued a statement on its Facebook site earlier today.

This week Latino Rebels received the following statement and image from UCSB IDEAS (Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success), an undocumented student support group from the University of California, Santa Barbara:

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On the morning of August 4th, 2013, a threatening message directed towards the undocumented community was found on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. The entrance of building 406, also known as El Centro, was vandalized with the words “Deportation = Justice; Deport Illegals NOW.” As the first and only undocumented student support group on this campus, UCSB IDEAS (Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success) feels it is necessary to formally address this blatant hate crime on our campus.

As frequent users of the space, El Centro has long served as a safe haven for our community in a way no other space on this campus has managed to do. Despite the incident, El Centro continues to symbolize solidarity among students and remains a shelter for a number of different social justice groups. These actions remind us of the importance for providing ‘safe spaces’ for marginalized groups on this campus and the necessity for these students’ agency in the creation of such spaces.

With regards to the attack on our undocumented student population, this incident is not an isolated event. Earlier this year, IDEAS presented to our Associated Students Finance board. During deliberation, one of our AS representatives referred to our members as ‘illegals who should not be attending this university in the first place’. Our campus community cannot afford to ignore these actions driven by hate and ignorance. Much like the programs implemented by our recently inaugurated UC president Janet Napolitano during her time with the Department of Homeland Security, these incidents are a form of violence directed towards a specific student community. These actions reinforce the same hatred and dehumanization that undocumented students experience every day. This action is not isolated to the undocumented community, nor does it represent the thoughts of a few individuals on this campus, but rather reflects the failure of this institution to rectify an education system that is historically oppressive. This incident reflects the institutional barriers that our marginalized student communities experience both on and off this campus.

To remain blind to these actions, happening in increasing degree, is to remain complicit in the silencing of our community. We hope to see not only a statement of support from our campus faculty and student representatives but also the necessary actions and efforts to bring light to the hatred and bigotry that exist within our campus. It is only with our consciousness and awareness that we can educate each other and transform our University into a respectful and welcoming place for all students. We will hold our UCSB faculty, student representatives, and the UC system as a whole accountable to the University of California’s ongoing commitment towards providing a welcoming and safe space to all students.

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