Dylan Kupsh

Dylan Kupsh is currently enrolled in a graduate program focusing on
Computer Science at UCLA. During COLA, he was in his 3rd undergraduate
year where he was a double major in Computer Science and Sociology.
During his time at COLA, he helped lead many graduate students in
creating events for COLA. He was one of the individuals who devised
the Ortega strike: All Smiles, No Swipes that fed thousands of
students by encouraging students to walk into Ortega and eat.


My name’s Danyela Ornelas. I’m currently interviewing Dylan Kupsh regarding his role in the COLA. So what year and major were you when you first joined COLA?

COLA was my third year. I was a computer science and sociology major.


Did anyone introduce you to COLA?

Not really. I was really involved in the union prior to that and so I was like up to date. And so, you know, everyone, right when I started, it was all of us sort of making it happen.

Yeah, I think that was really difficult to just plan as you go on.

Yeah. It was scary, too, because I was a union officer at the time and I kept getting emails from people in the union saying, don’t say anything about COLA, don’t do anything about COLA.

I know that’s been really scary, especially when harsh punishments were being given to UCSC COLA organizations as well.

But I remember we first started in the fall of that year and it was more like UCSC rebelling against the union. And then it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it like, dwarfs everything else.

Okay. So I know you mentioned that you were also part of the union, but was there anything else that caused you to join the organization and what exactly was your role in this?

Yeah. So as a little background, I was in USLAC, which is the undergrad student labor organization, and then I was also in Students for Justice in Palestine and UAW 2865. And so I was doing a lot of the organizing work on campus with the union UAW. I did a lot with AFSCME Strikes in the past. A lot of my role was trying to constantly expand COLA and also helping out a lot with logistics and planning and relaying what I learned from the AFSCME strikes to COLA– what we’ve learned was successful and what was less successful and also trying not to repeat mistakes that others made.

Yeah. What was the most significant protest to you?

For me, the most significant one was the Blackout day.

Oh, that’s right.

You know, like the days before I was like, oh, this might not be that big. We’ve only been getting like 200 people up the picket line. But then the day of, there were so many people. I think we made a smart decision and we went through the library which made the line go on for like 5 minutes. So there was a constant stream of people marching for COLA. And it was like, Wow, we really did that.

That’s incredible. That’s so inspiring. I understand that your Cheadle hall strike was a tad controversial but regardless it was pretty major.

Yeah. The second part of the Cheadle Hall strike was more impromptu.

Are there any current plans for COLA to bring more awareness to this organization?

I mean, we never really got the goal that we wanted, which is COLA. We were not pushing strong enough, I think. And then the other thing is just that it takes a lot of effort to get to the university and to strike. And I think we would have gotten it like if we were able to get like one or two more quarters. I think that it would have just continued to grow a lot. To the point where we were like Santa Cruz and actually shutting down the campus where people can’t get in and stuff. But I still want that goal.

Yeah, that’s a very important goal. Would you say a factor in not achieving a COLA was due to possibly the pandemic?

Oh, it was totally the pandemic. 100% the pandemic. I think it’s different when you’re at your own campus, like when we’re at Santa Barbara and we can talk to everyone. And everyone at Santa Barbara was on a very similar page about COLA and, or most of the people I talked to. But then when we get into these union conversations, it’s like a bunch of infighting and it’s exhausting. And it’s like people on my campus were wanting to do this and then saying, “Oh, you have to do something else”. And people here weren’t very receptive to that. Yeah, but I do think the pandemic played the biggest role though. Yeah.

Yeah, I remember I was a freshman when this happened, so I remember it being a huge explosive thing and then by spring quarter it just disappeared. I couldn’t believe the university is really failing their own TAs, their own students despite their goal of education.

It was close, I think. I think it’s harder to strike online, but I think we got really close to being able to do it again. But yeah, that was how it ended.

So how do you feel as one of the COLA representatives about the current housing crisis going on at UCSB and in Isla Vista?

Inevitable. I think it’s like the university’s own problem where instead of actually doing their job and building housing and actually trying to host students, they put all of their money in some millionaire to try to fix all their problems, which will probably never come to
fruition.

Yeah. Funny enough, my, my follow up question was going to be, what is what are your personal thoughts on Munger Hall?

Yeah. Yeah, it’s kind of funny because Santa Barbara really needs housing and there’s so many places to build housing. And they haven’t been building housing for like so many years. And then they get this Munger Hall proposal, which is some billionaire (woooo) and then the other proposal that they keep spouting– the Ocean Road one– I remember it receiving a lot of criticism because it was going to cut down the eucalyptus trees and the tunnel. They were going to take out the tunnel. They’re really trying hard not to build housing.

Oh, it’s absolutely crazy. If there is one thing you could change about COLA what would it be?

I mean, not to have the pandemic, I think, would be the biggest one, but outside our control. You know, personally, I think I should have been like start more active from the beginning. But yeah, I don’t know really what to change about the overall movement. I guess there’s a lot of things I think should have played differently around internal racism. And I think there is a lot of interpersonal conflict toward the end that I wish would have changed.

Do you have any final words you’d like to say regarding COLA or to the university?

I don’t think it’s going away. I think it’s going to be continued in a year or in a few years. I think that at some point everyone’s going to say we’re fed up with being so ridiculously underpaid for the work that people do at the university itself. And I think when it comes back, it’s going to be stronger because it’s not just going to be mainly grad students. I think it’s going to be more demanding. I think the university has done a pretty poor job treating workers during the pandemic and after the pandemic. I think every single worker has been basically screwed over by the university, besides, like top professors and administrators. So I think it’s going to get worse.

Does it make you upset as a graduate of UCSB, as an alumni, that there’s still no significant change?

Yeah, well, I’m at another UC, so I’m getting the same problems.

Oh, no.

Now I’m a grad student and I have to live with this poor wage.

And a quick follow-up question. I would love to hear more about the Ortega: All Smiles No Swipes event.

Yeah, yeah. We heard that they did like eight of these at Santa Cruz. And there was someone from Santa Cruz who came down to Santa Barbara for a day. And they told us, you have to do this. And then on the other side, I was friends with AFSCME. The people who worked in the Dining Commons, their organizer, and he was also telling me about other campuses and the mistakes that they made with this. I think it went horribly wrong at Berkeley. So we got together with a group– there was like 30 of us or something– and we spent a whole day planning this out piece by piece. I guess I was the one who led a lot of it because I was the only undergrad that really knew the dining commons. And we did it before with AFSCME where we would go into the dining commons and do protests inside. It’s just a lot different when you’re letting people in for free. But it was really crazy how… I guess I was surprised at how simple it was. We just like went in at the start of the dining period, instantly like take over– the management or whatever was stunned. They didn’t hear anything about it and… I was expecting them to pull food and stop service, but they kept serving. And then lines start pummeling. There were a few people that we
assigned to do, like, social media stuff, and they did an excellent job. And we did a good thing. We were constantly talking to the workers behind the counter. And it was weird too, that the police response at Santa Barbara was different where they only sent an undercover cop who was really easy to spot and like, didn’t do anything.

Really. I didn’t know that.

Yeah. They had, like, a plainclothes cop that they sent and it was kind of funny because it looked like she was trying to dress up, like, as a college student. But you could tell a mile what she was. And yeah, I think it was like one of the best actions because it’s not only like helping food security, which was like a tenet of COLA with housing security, but it also had a direct financial impact on the university where if we kept doing that, you know, it has a big demand. And we were very close to doing it again. It’s just the pandemic.

If I may ask, what dining commons would you have chosen next, or would you have stuck with Ortega?

So we chose Ortega because it’s the easiest to take over. There’s one entrance and by the time you’re inside Ortega, they can’t lock you out. The problem with a lot of dining commons is they just close the door when you’re trying to get in, so you have to shimmy your way in. At DLG there’s that little turntable and they block you from entering.

Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

It’s a lot more complicated. And then Carrillo has the long walkways where they see you for 20 seconds as you’re walking down and then you can never get people to Portola. I think we would have done Carrillo because I think we could have gotten away with it. I think, you know, be cautious of like logistics and stuff. But like, Ortega was just the easiest
one, and that’s why we did it first.

Yeah, that makes sense. I understand Ortega got to the point where it reached capacity very quickly. And from what I remember, there were the managers who were kind of complaining about students taking out food. And I understand COLA, you guys were encouraging them to do so.

Yeah, it was really funny, our interactions with the managers. Like the first thing we did is we went to the managers and we were like, everyone needs to be free today. And they’re like, Wait, wait, wait, we have to approve this. We have to go through our chain of command. And we’re like, you don’t understand. You’re not in charge today. We’re in charge. And it was really funny how quickly they realized what was happening. You know, they had
that one person by the thing like counting capacity. I honestly didn’t think it would ever reach capacity. I thought they would just take away food and it would be good for like 30 minutes or whatever. I did not expect to stay the whole dining period too. And it was also cool seeing people take out food. We brought paper plates because we didn’t want to put extra work on the workers here. So we’ll bring our own paper plates and trash bags and stuff. And the managers during the service kept telling us, “Don’t use those plates, don’t use those plates.” And I was like, “Really? You want to put more work on yourselves
here”, you know? And then at the end, we helped them clean up everything. All of us vacuumed the whole place, cleaned up the tables and everything. I think one of them was like, this is the cleanest Ortega has been while. But yeah, no, it was weird.

I assume you also maybe have spoken to some student workers and chefs. What did they say about COLA? And also about the event?

Yeah. So as I mentioned, a big concern of mine was the workers. I heard at Berkeley, they got really scared because of the way that the COLA people did that action. And so the whole time we, we assigned one person to basically be talking to the workers. And I think the problem that we realized after was that they really only talked to the workers
that you can see because like in Ortega, they hide all the workers in the kitchen or whatever. Yeah. And I think a big problem that we had was a lot of the chefs and stuff, they eat leftovers and there weren’t any leftovers. We ran out of food. And so it was
kind of funny because after we did the event, we’re like, you know, maybe next time we have to order catering even though we’re taking over dining commons, we have to order catering for the workers. And we were actually serious. But I think that was a problem for the student workers, I think. There were mixed reactions where some were like– I remember seeing Reddit– and they’re like, please don’t come to our dining common again. Like, we’re overworked. We kept trying to interact with the workers there when we were taking it over. But I guess they don’t really want to say that it’s causing them more work, which is understandable.

I would like to say that that event was the most positively representative for the students. I would just hear students go on and on about your organization because of this very event. You guys got a huge positive reception because of it.

Yeah, it was a really fun action to do. It was one of the most fun. And it was actually, like, really chill. I didn’t expect it to be that chill because we were taking thousands of dollars of food.

They must been so surprised, especially since you mentioned that other UCs have tried and they faced difficulties doing so.

Santa Cruz like did it eight times and so they were experienced. Berkeley I think the problem was that the grad students that planned it didn’t go to the dining commons and so they didn’t know. And they also didn’t really think about the workers inside. At UCLA, it was all undergrads that planned it, so they did good. And yeah, I guess it was trying to make sure that we’re anticipating the people inside. But yeah, it was cool. We were very close to not doing it.

Really, why?

People felt uneasy. Because it’s a really high-stakes action where it’s hard to protect the safety of everyone doing it. And it’s much different because it’s not your safety personally. It’s the people you’re letting into the dining commons. We’re not the ones that are eating the food. Like, I think most of the people in COLA, like the ones who planned it, didn’t really eat. We were letting everyone else eat. And so it’s like a different level of safety where you can never really anticipate what the police response or whatever will be. There was also like, is this too much? And we all tried to come to a consensus with everyone beforehand. And there were a few people who were, like, ambivalent about it. But I think afterward everyone was like, Yeah, that was a big success. Glad we did.

It was a huge success. I know you mentioned that one of the flaws of other dining commons strikes was the fact that there was not enough support. Help from
undergraduates. So would you say that alongside graduate students, undergraduates also played a huge role?

I mean, there wouldn’t be COLA without undergrads. There’s a lot of people on campus that I think are making that mistake, like a lot of worker organizations that are ignoring undergrads. But I think it was quite clear that wouldn’t happen without undergrads. You know, the marches were amplified. The amount of people who are actually quote-unquote on strike was dwarfed by the number of undergrads. The dining common action was me and a few other undergrads. I don’t think it would have happened without us because a lot of grad students just didn’t know the dining commons. It was kind of funny because when you’re first planning this action, we did a whole walk-through of it when the dining commons was closed and no one was there. And we literally rehearsed everything to a
tee and when we were trying to find the building all the grad students were like, “Where is Ortega? I’ve never heard of Ortega before.”

And I thought that was funny because I’d been here for three years. How do you not know where Ortega is or this other dining commons? And they’re like, It’s right next to the GSA lounge. But yeah, I think undergrads played a huge deal, especially at the beginning, too, like the Cheadle Hall sit-in. A lot of grad students brought their sections, and I think that’s what made the difference for the Cheadle Hall thing. And why it was so successful at the beginning was because there were like ten of us sitting in the office and then like one person brought a group of 30 people and did section right in the hallway or whatever. And I think that made it really, really effective.

And besides undergraduate support, what was the faculty reception like?

I think faculty support was it was really good at Santa Cruz. It was instrumental at Santa Cruz. It helped a lot of the wild cats get their jobs back. I was in a lot of those meetings and about them getting their jobs back and realized the arguments that we were making as a union relied upon faculty support and it worked. They got their jobs back. But at Santa Barbara, I personally wasn’t involved in the faculty thing because I think faculty are really hard at Santa Barbara to organize in terms of like who to contact and their position on campus. I think the people who did it did a good job. There were like 30 or 40 professors and they did their own march one day and I thought it was really cool. The faculty in the history department were the main ones pushing forward the faculty for COLA. I don’t envy people who had the role of getting faculty on board.

Were you ever afraid that what happened UCSC to graduate students would happen to UCSB? Was there a threat of losing your job?

I guess talking to a lot of UCSC people, I don’t think they lost pay over that. They lost pay in the intermediate time when they were off their jobs. I think the point about the job loss is that we had a union, we had good appointment section rights and I think most people weren’t concerned about being fired. It was there, but it was also not the biggest concern. I wasn’t nervous about people being fired. I think if they fired them, it would have made COLA ten times bigger. And they didn’t fire them. I guess I wasn’t nervous about them trying to. I imagine if the grading strike went on for a very long time, they would have made an attempt. But from my position, the university didn’t care about the teaching strike. They only cared about them doing the grading strike.

And I feel like UCSB was relatively silent about talking to the school as a whole regarding COLA. How do you feel about that? There were no major messages from Chancellor Yang.

Yeah, I wasn’t surprised. That’s the way that Yang did it in the past. He’s the type of person who won’t say anything publicly. He’ll do it all privately. There were three AFSCME strikes and UCSB never gave a single comment about any of the three AFSCME strikes. And I was like, you know, this is their game plan. I think the administration in the back of their offices was scared to help. Like when we did the sit-in, it was funny because we were in Chancellor Yang’s office and we see one of the workers in the office point out that they got a report from UCOP on COLA. We could see them photocopying it in their printer room and they
whisked it off to another room right away to try to hide it from us. But I thought that was really funny. I think there was there was this fear from the university about if they said anything about COLA, then they would get a union lawsuit like what happened at Santa Cruz with the housing thing. I think they did try to meet with us and I think we did have one meeting with them. The Vice-Chancellor, David Marshall or whatever, had a printout of every COLA story on Instagram. Like he had a folder and he literally printed out every single folder on Instagram. And I thought that was like, yeah, they’re definitely stalking us.

Would you feel that COLA would have grown a little bit larger had the university made any public statements? I understand there was fear of lawsuits, but how do you feel about that?

Yeah. If they tried to fire anyone. I think there’s nothing that you can do to grow it more than doing something like that. I think it would have grown more if they said something.

And how do you feel about any negativity towards COLA? I remember looking up news articles about your events and there were many negative comments regarding COLA, calling the organization is kind of a waste of time.


I mean, we got what we accomplished or we got a big movement. I think there were some comments about like the Cheadle Hall lock-out thing that we did that I think were fair. It didn’t go to plan that day. I think that a lot of staff were incensed about the way that we handled a lot of the walkouts. But I think ultimately all the comments that were negative were outdone by a lot. And I would constantly be looking up on like the Daily Nexus and stuff and seeing what people were saying to see if there were any worthwhile criticisms. I think self-criticism is really important and mistakes that we weren’t thinking of that we made. And, you know, I think a lot of them were just like rich alumni saying something about like back in my day or whatever, and it’s ridiculous. But they got kind of outsized by everyone else.

Oh, for sure. I can wholeheartedly say as a current undergrad that the undergraduate is in full support of what COLA had done.

I think undergrad demands were largely left out of COLA. My interpretation of COLA is it’s kind of vague on like what the demand is. I think there was an attempt to really deliberately include more and more undergrads. I think most undergrad positions are way worse than what grad students face. And I think that it’s not as public and I do think it was constantly left out. A bit too much in my opinion. Yeah.

And then I guess the other side of it is the union dynamic. I think a lot of the statewide union leadership really sold out. And it was weird because like at LA, they did a whole thing like, please don’t go on strike. Please don’t go on strike. They’re like, begging us and it’s like, why? Why are they so scared? You know, a bunch of people are getting together, why are you trying to stop that? Internally, I think that was extremely present with a lot of the organizers. Me and Sheila were the two UAW people at UCSB the whole time, and I became the chair of the UAW at UCSB right when the pandemic hit. And it’s like we’re both facing this incredible pressure from not just the university, but UAW itself and UAW trying to cover itself. And I thought that was sort of antithetical to what we were trying to build. I don’t think a lot of people in UAW have really reflected on what they did during that time. And I hope they do. And I hope a lot of people learn from what COLA created, how effective graduate labor is in the university because there’s a lot of people that say you can’t strike unless you get so many people in this department to say, like, I’m not working. But COLA… there wasn’t. I think there were a lot of people, but it wasn’t like half of all TAs were doing this, but like 20 or 30% of all grades were withheld at Santa Cruz.

And that was more than 80% of students or something. It’s like a huge amount of students like were like, “where is my grade? Where’s my grade?” And I think it shows how integral graduate labor is to the university and how easy it is to shut down the university if you just don’t grade for like a quarter the whole university falls apart. And I think that’s kind of a lesson to show how neoliberal the university is, where it relies upon not the actual teaching, where they, they don’t really care as much about the teaching, but the grades. But it’s also, I think, instrumental for the future in trying to get a COLA contract or cops off campus, that you really don’t need 100% of people. You need a really committed group of rank and file people, and they can make a huge impact on the university. And I think it’s understated how much it affected them. And I guess while I’m on that note, I think it also revealed how incompetent a lot of university staff are. And, you know, I went to the lawsuit meeting every single question, the Santa Cruz labor relations person was like, yeah, after COLA, I finally read the UAW bylaws and I’m like– it’s your job! You’re getting paid 100K and you haven’t read the bylaws of the union that you’re supposed to be interacting with.

And it’s how reactive they are. I dealt with the Santa Barbara people for two or three years and they don’t prepare for meetings until like 10 minutes before. A lot of people are
trying to say the university is smart. The university is really playing this strategically. They’re thinking through all of their decisions. They have a ton of time. They’re going through ten chains of lawyers. When I really think the university always waits until the last possible second and they’re not as prepared as a lot of people think they are. I could see during bargaining the UCOP people don’t prepare for meetings, really. They just seem a little overworked, but who cares? Because they’re paid too much. But they’re like preparing like 5 minutes before these meetings and the only time that they actually prepared was during COLA when they were like oh, shoot, we actually have a huge problem where our university is getting shut down. And I think a lot of people still are thinking the university is really, really smart and strategic and stuff. And I don’t think that’s true. I guess that’s my opinion.

Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I understand that university disorganization is honestly a problem. You guys practically went to every meeting. You guys devised a very reasonable list of demands for the university. For them to just kind of glance at it seems kind of insulting.

Yeah, it feels like the university is constantly on PR watch where they’re just doing stuff according to their own interests or whatever. And then finally, when something goes bad, they try to overcorrect. Like, with this Munger Hall, it seemed like for years they were basically like stalling it out, like not doing much. And then, like, right once the stories hit, they’re in full damage control mode. And I don’t think it was strategic. It’s just being lazy.

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you again so much for your time. I really do appreciate it.


Interviewed by: Danyela Ornelas

UC Lecturer Strike at UCSB, 2021

By Jenna Norwood

2021

On November 17th, 2021, the lecturers of the University of California called for a state-wide two-day strike on all UC Campuses to protest unfair labor rights against lecturers who work for the UC system. Across all Universities of California, there are about 6,500 employed lecturers who teach twenty percent of classes, who claim they do not make fair pay for the number of hours and work put into their jobs. With the threat of the strike, lecturers were fighting for a thirty percent salary increase over five years, promises of job stability, clearer outlines of workloads, and annual costs of living adjustments. However, the strike did not end up taking place because the University of California decided to accept the terms of the UC-AFT lecturer union. 

At UCSB, both tenured professors and lecturers were planning on canceling classes in support of the strike. Many lecturers and professors spoke about the strike to their students in class, encouraging them to support the strike and canceling class. On November 18th, an in-person strike at Stroke Tower was planned for students and faculty to attend. Outside Storke Tower, there was to be a presence of people all day long. There were also marches planned to take place with faculty and students in front of the library and across campus. A solidarity pledge was also sent around to students to sign and share to pledge support to lecturers and fight back against unfair labor practices. Attendance was expected to be high, as many students rallied in support of the lectures. 

Below is a flier posted on campus created by UC-AFT:

As bargaining between the University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) and the University of California went late into the night, many students and faculty expected the strike to continue as planned for the next two days. To everyone’s surprise, a tentative resolution was reached by both sides in the early hours of the morning.

The resolution included more job stability and protection for lecturers to make advancements in their careers, raise the salary floor, add annual cost of living adjustments (COLA) for each year of the contract, improve how workload standards are defined, and offer four weeks of fully paid family leave, among other things. 

As most classes were already canceled and most UCSB students were going to join the strike on both days that it was planned, a celebration in front of Stroke Tower took place instead. It was filled with happy people across the board, as most lecturers were thrilled about the new contract and the future of their careers, and students were happy for their lecturers who have provided them a wealth of knowledge during their years here at UCSB. 

In an email sent to his students after the strike was canceled, lecturer Chase Hobbs-Morgan stated “Sometimes simply the promise of striking is enough to pressure employers to negotiate. Importantly, this works better when the workers are members of a union, and it works even better when members of the community such as you all as students step in to support.” Hobbs-Morgan was also a leader in planning the strike and coordinated between students and faculty, which took over two years of organizing, students writing letters in support, members of the community speaking up, journalists writing articles, and many other avenues of support for the UC to extend the contract. Lecturers were very thankful to students of UCSB for speaking out on the behalf of lecturers and pleading support to the strike.


Works Cited

https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2021/11/resolution-reached-for-lecturers-strike https://ap.ucsb.edu/news.and.announcements/memos/?11.16.2021.Update.on.Lecturer.Bargai ning 

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-17/uc-lecturer-strike-averted-tentative-agr eement-reached 

https://www.cityonahillpress.com/2021/05/10/uc-aft-reaches-strike-pledge-goal-during-may day-rally/

Bank Burning, 1970

By Frances Woo

February 26, 1970


5:00 PM


William Kunstler, an activist lawyer, gives a speech at Perfect Park.

Richard Underwood is beat and arrested by police for holding a “molotov cocktail”, which was actually an open bottle of wine.

Students start hitting patrolling police cars with rocks in protest of this beating and attempted arrest and the crowd grows to round 500-700 people.


5:30 PM


Windows at Isla Vista Realty, Embarcadero Company, Income Property Management, Ventura Realty, Finear Realty, the Brazen Onager, and the Village Green are broken.


6:30 PM


Someone puts a burning trash can inside of Bank of America and 100-150 officers arrive in full riot gear and begin sweeping the crowd.

Police approached from around the Enco station and the Magic Lantern.

Students tried to flee but were met with more police force and the students turn and charge the officers.

The police run while students hurl rocks at them and then officers in turn throw rocks back at the crowd.

Second batch of police officers arrive from a transit bus parked on Camino Pescadero.

The first group of officers leave on the bus while students continue to pelt them with rocks, breaking five or six windows on the bus.


7:30 PM


Crowd reaches 1,500. A patrol car is burned and overturned in front of American Records on Embarcadero Del Mar. All Isla Vista and campus entrances are roadblocked by police and no cars can get in or out of the area.


9:30 PM


Four cans of tear gas are thrown into the crowd from a 1962 Ford Falcon.

Tear gas is also thrown around “…Isla Vista Realty, on Sabado Tarde, and at the corner of Embarcadero del Norte and Seville” (El Gaucho, 1).

Students block traffic using garbage cans and there’s a second tear gas raid around Village Market and the Bank of America building.


11:30 PM


Someone burns a pile of papers and furniture inside the Bank of America building and soon the whole building is on fire.


12:00 AM


The building burns, the roof caves in, the crowd grows even bigger, and the police place more barricades in the streets.


2:30 AM


Law enforcement agents from other schools congregate at San Rafael Dorm.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff James Webster flies overhead in a helicopter and warns the crowd to either be arrested or disperse.


3:00 AM


Crowd begins to die down.

Police sweep the streets and arrest people who failed to disperse.

Police search apartments of those suspected to participate in the demonstration.

A helicopter shines a spotlight on the streets, searching for crowd members.


4:00 AM


The helicopter leaves.

Someone starts a trash fire at the top of the loop and KCSB members are ordered to leave the Wooden House Restaurant on Embarcadero Del Mar.


4:30 AM


Local hospitals report injuries from that night.

Two people are treated for tear gas burns and two officers are treated for superficial wounds and a face laceration.

Eighteen to twenty five police cars continue to drive by and arrest anyone on the streets for failing to disperse.


6:00 AM


Around 15-20 people were reportedly arrested over the course of this night.


El Gaucho, Vol. 50-No. 87

Faculty Club Bombing, 1969

By Yiyang Zhao

April 16th, 1969


“At 6:23 a.m. on April 11th, 1969, a homemade bomb exploded in the Faculty Club. Caretaker Dover O. Sharpe was examining the cardboard box in which the bomb was concealed when it detonated. The explosion knocked him back about 15 feet across the patio of the Club and fatally injured him. According to the official report of UCSB, Sharp suffered ‘burns of 70 percent of his body, compound fracture of a leg, mutilated hand, an injured eye, and multiple shrapnel wounds.’”

 (Report On Bombing At UCSB Faculty Club, University Archives Vernon Cheadle April 1969, Box 8. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records, UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.) 

Dover O. Sharpe passed away 2 days later at Goleta Valley Community Hospital after having managed to crawl to a pool about 50 feet away and being rescued by students living in San Rafael Hall.  He was survived by, “three sisters, three brothers, one son, three daughters, and six grandchildren”, as reported in El Gaucho.

Equally striking was the fact that the bomb was fairly sophisticated.  In an El Gaucho article, Fire Chief Arthur T. McGarry stated that the bomb consisted of,  “a half gallon wine jug filled with a volatile liquid, such as gasoline, a timing device, a battery, and a piece of six inch pipe packed with an explosive compound.”  Apparently, the bomb was made to kill instead of making an alarm. 

Although no one was eventually arrested, speculations on the bomber’s motive abounded.  When testifying before Congress, Captain Joel Honey of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department conjectured that it had something to do with the Club’s exclusion of students: “there had been a radical element which had denounced the Faculty Club as a closed club that would not allow the admission of students without the express invitation of a faculty member.”  When reflecting on the event in 1991, Sociology professor, Harvey Molotch, believed that “there was logic behind the events that occurred in the 1960s and ’70s…stopping the Vietnam War and other issues of the day.”  For Molotch, the bombing was one instance.  Another hypothesis was furthered by Physics professor, Robert Schrieffer.  He was convinced that the bomb was intended to assassinate Professor Freeman Dyson, a visiting Princeton University physics professor residing in the Club at the time.  According to Schrieffer, Dyson’s study in nuclear weapons made him the target. 

It is impossible to tell which theory is correct, but there is little doubt it was political action.  As Malcolm Gault-Williams, author of Don’t bank on Amerika, pointed out that the bombing “came at a time of rising student activism at UCSB.”  Indeed, it was within the life span of the New Free University (NFU). The NFU was established on February 17th by the United Front (UF), constituted by the Black Student Union (BSU), United Mexican-American Students (UMAS) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They had peacefully occupied, or “liberated”, the UCen since then. They attempted to educate themselves on courses not accessible through the curriculum, ranging from Black Literature to Philosophical and Environmental Revolution.

(NFU—SBEC Schedule of Classes Friday, University Archives Vernon Cheadle April 1969, Box 8. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records, UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.) 

An El Gaucho article on the NFU reads that, “[the] UCen is now more populated them it ever was; over 90 classes have now been scheduled.  Even Vice Chancellor Goodspeed is teaching one.”  This was reported on the April 11th issue, the same day of the bombing. 

In a 2015 article, David Minier, who served as district attorney in Santa Barbara County at the time of the bombing, asserted that “[there] was no outrage,” after the tragic incident; however, it is, if anything, a false claim. “What the hell kind of campus do we have?” a following El Gaucho editorial questioned with apparent anger.  In a letter entitled, “Pandora’s Box Opens”, Alana Kathleen Brown, a Graduate English student, stated that, “I doubt that the bomb was intended to kill anybody, but whoever did it is now a murderer.”  “This is our school,” junior Bill James declared.  “Thus we are victims of the senseless bombing as well as Mr. Sharp.”  Not only did students condemn this tragedy in words, but also in action.  About 150 students led by student James Marino rallied on April 14th at the UCen in protest of the bombing.  Earl MacMillan of the BSU stated that the BSU “ deplores all acts of violence.”  Greg Knell, speaking for SDS, uttered that, “we should be condemning the violence of our society … we should be condemning all violence.”

In his 1991 reflection, sociology Professor Harvey Molotch remarked that “the death of Dover Sharp was one of the low moments of the anti-war movement in the 1960’s,” and a “disappointment to the majority of the left.”  Indeed, the left took a big hit because of this tragedy, although “[everyone] from the Young Americans for Freedom, the Associated Students, the Black Student Union and the Students for a Democratic Society voiced their opposition to it,” If we believe Geoffrey Wallace, who was himself a student at the time, those radical associations were much discredited among students.  Michael M. Engler, a Junior Political Science student apparently blamed the SDS for violence and declared that “I would like [the] SDS and its mickey-mouse crew of amateur revolutionaries and stormtroopers to tell the rest of the student body exactly what kinds of violence and terrorism it favors, and exactly which of us are not ‘innocent’ men.”  Another Political Science Junior Doug Pittman certainly felt the same and wrote satirically that “[specific] violence is wonderful to the SDS I take it, since only random’ violence is condemned. That certainly makes the rest of us feel safe and secure, now doesn’t it?”  As a result, the NFU, which was maintained by the left, lost its supporters. Two weeks after the bombing, NFU abandoned the UCen.  Their statement reads that “[our] support has fallen. We hope that through our dissolution, the students here at UCSB will realize that the problems we have attempted to correct require support.” Yet no support came back, nor did the NFU.  There were many reasons, and the bombing unfavoring activists was certainly one of them. 

Nowadays, we are living in a world hardly insulated from violence. At the same time as I am researching this article, violence is spotted around the globe, so far as in Asia and South America, and so near as Santa Clarita, California. These instances keep reminding us that history matters and still haunts us, or, as Karl Marx famously framed, “weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living”.  What’s the lesson then? The answer is that violence cannot further the pursuit of political demand, no matter how justifiable and legitimate; rather, it could do only harm to the cause since it inevitably alienates bystanders and even some supporters. We all want to make our world better, but violence is by no means the way to achieve it.

Vietnam War Protests: 1965-1972

By Sophia Chupein

May 1965


College students played an indispensable role in the anti-Vietnam war movement during the 1970s, and UCSB was no exception. Beginning in May of 1965, students protested and discussed the war in every way imaginable. Students participated through draft resistance, engaging in faculty discussions, attending teach-ins, and joining organizations such as the Student Peace Committee (see below). A large part of the UCSB student body, however, did not view these forums as adequate measures to protest the Johnson administration’s foreign policy measures. Student protests, both peaceful and violent, erupted across America as the U.S Army continually invaded and bombed Southeast Asia beginning in 1965. The validity of the UCSB Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was being brought into question during this time as well, since many students believed its actions should be more accommodating to protestors. UCSB students expressed their vehement anger towards U.S foreign policy through a series of violent protests in 1967, causing thousands of dollars worth of property damage in Isla Vista and the temporary shutdown of the Santa Barbara Airport. These protests sent an unfiltered message to the U.S Government: that they would be held accountable for their decisions, no matter what the cost.

[(“New Draft Policy”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 4). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

[(“Are You in Favor of Peace in Vietnam”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 4). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

[(“University Committee on War and Peace”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 10). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

Protests, marches, and calls to action were ubiquitous around campus. These took the form of movie showings, theater productions, lectures, speeches, and artwork. Here are some of the many postings reminding students of the urgency of protest and circumstances of the war:

[(Matson, R. 1971, November 3). “The Time to Act is Now.” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/t148fj11g]
[(Okamura/OPS 1972, April 19). Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/3x816n74p]
[(Levine, D 1973, May 11). Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/rj4305584]
[(1967, October 20). “Scoreboard” El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/bk128b88g]

 

In October of 1965, Students for Free Political Action (SFPA) sponsored the first teach-ins, movie screenings, and speeches from nationally recognized activists at UCSB. October also marked the first of many rallies in opposition to the war, which in turn sparked the first student conflicts regarding the morality of America’s involvement in Vietnam. For instance, the previously inactive Young Americans for Freedom group mobilized in 1965 in order to protest SFPA actions on campus.

[(Winograd, B. 1965, October 15). “Viet Nam protest today; vigil stirs counter-pickets” El Gaucho, https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/h128nf83m]

 

Joan Baez, a widely known folk songwriter and activist, came to UCSB in October of 1966 to speak in David Arnold’s Sociology 128 class about the war in Vietnam, non-violence, and taking political action. Joan Baez was a part of the outspoken liberal minority that had been speaking out against U.S involvement in Vietnam since the beginning of the conflict.

[(Shelton, J. 1966, October 20). “Joan Baez describes Non Violence School” El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sd947]
[(Shelton, J. 1966, October 20). “Non-Violent revolt asked by pacifist” El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sd947]

 

Though Baez’s non-violent rhetoric resonated with many UCSB students, frustration with the war and the rise of organized student activism in the 1960s mobilized thousands of UCSB students. 1967 was filled with both peaceful and violent student protests. One of the primary debates within the UCSB student body was regarding the rights of the ROTC. The ROTC was voluntarily established at UCSB shortly after World War II and provided a way for male students during this period to fulfill their military obligations. When student protestors began attacking the ROTC during the height of the war, many students defended the military program, claiming that ROTC officers were facing injustice and stereotyping. Major Bailey told the Daily Nexus in 1967 that the ROTC faculty members would “jump at the chance to discuss the issues with anyone willing to take the time…Pacifist attacks such as those witnessed here recently do not help matters any” (1971, November 3) Daily Nexus.

[(1968, October 17) El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/bg257g27q]

 

During Fall Quarter of 1967, The Daily Nexus and El Gaucho were covered with letters to the editor about how the ROTC should handle student activism, and whether or not the ROTC should be considered for academic credit. It was during this period that widespread disillusionment with the war began reaching the general American public. The televised atrocities of the war and the exponentially rising cost to taxpayers was becoming increasingly evident. The Student Peace Committee was a prominent voice in the ROTC debate.

[(Samuelsen, M. 1967, October 3). “Peace Committee ROTC Clash on ‘Academic’ Debate” El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/tq57ns101]

 

Perspectives on the ROTC debate took on many forms. Many students viewed protests against the military institution as unjust and unsubstantiated. While most of these opinions were made public through the Daily Nexus, a group of students and Santa Barbara citizens formed an organization called “Friends of the ROTC”, which defended the military group’s role on campus (see below).

[(Hankins, J. 1971, November 3). “‘Friends of ROTC’ Formed by Santa Barbara Citizens” El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/ww72bc81w]

 

[(Russ, B. 1967, October 18). “A Defence of ROTC” El Gaucho,  Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/r494vm27z]

 

[(Russ, B. 1967, October 18). “A Defence of ROTC” El Gaucho,  Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/r494vm27z]
[(Krend, J. 1967, October 31). “ROTC Dispute Rages on” El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/9s161716b]

 

Each escalation of U.S involvement in the war brought with it a new wave of student protest. When the Nixon administration approved the U.S invasion of Cambodia in 1970, rising anti-war sentiments coalesced into an unprecedented national student strike. The magnitude of this strike delivered an ultimatum to the U.S government, warning that if the U.S extends the invasion in Southeast Asia, turmoil will ensue on the home front.

[(“The U.S. Military has Invaded Cambodia”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 10). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

When Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger further escalated the war through implementing Operation Linebacker in 1972, UCSB students grew furious. The day after the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, students shut down the Santa Barbara airport, resulting in the cancelation of all flights for that day. The violence of these riots resulted in one person falling from a three-story building, while 13 others were arrested.

[(Rimer, S; Haight, A. 1972, May 10). “2,500 shut down S.B. airport” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sd972]

 

When police forces tried to subdue the protest at 9:30 pm, students began yelling “freeway!”, and headed to Hollister Avenue and Highway 101. By 10:00 pm, when students realized a fence stood between them and the highway, they began walking back to IV, telling police officers they wanted no confrontation. A police car then sped directly towards the back of the marching group and swerved off the road, injuring and arresting protestors. As police officers continued to drive through the crowds, one woman parked on Hollister told the Daily Nexus “Well they must have been [beating protestors], didn’t you hear the screaming?”. At 10:35 pm, a bonfire was set off in Perfect Park, and protestors began marching through IV to gain members for a march on the ROTC. When the group was confronted by the ROTC, a protestor drove his car directly into the line of ROTC members. As rocks were being thrown back and forth, the ROTC threw a total of five canisters of tear gas into the crowd on Pardall. By 2:00 am the demonstrators had dispersed (Rimer, S. 1972, May 11. Daily Nexus).

[(Cline, V. 1972, May 10). “Night actions rock Isla Vista” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sd972]

 

[(Eber, R.1972, May 11). “Riot damage in Tuesday action at approximately $6,000” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/g445cf259]

 

This event angered many students who felt that these violent protests were unjustified, as demonstrated by this letter to the editor of the Daily Nexus:

[(Randall, T. 1972, May 10). “Letter to the Editor” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sd972]

 

The following day, 1,000 UCSB students gathered on the UCen lawn to continue the anti-war rally. They marched throughout campus and into Oglesby’s History of California class in Campbell Hall, gathering more and more students as they went. Before the Isla Vista rally later that day, about 250 students confronted 25 ROTC officers at the ROTC building. “One officer was hit by a can and knocked down…two students climbed on top of the building, and 10 students were eventually allowed to enter the building to speak with Army Officers” (Daily Nexus, May 10 1972).

On May 11th, the following day, Ronald Reagan walked off his helicopter onto Santa Barbara grounds, where he was greeted by 1,000 demonstrators. While 1,200 members of Santa Barbara’s social elite dined with Reagan, the demonstrators (mostly from UCSB) sang and chanted outside. No confrontational or violent incidents occurred.

The events that occurred during these years at UCSB reflected the anger, disappointment, and frustration of students with the U.S government’s decisions. The debates, teach-ins, rallies, and protests that took place on campus are testaments to the abilities of young people to enact meaningful change. The Santa Barbara airport protestors received national news coverage from NBC and CBS, mirroring the American public’s growing opposition to the Vietnam war. Additionally, reactions to the anti-war protests demonstrated the wide range of political opinions that have always been present on the UCSB campus, and how social unrest can facilitate meaningful debate.

Bank of America Burning, 1970

By Frances Woo

February 27th, 1970


The IV Bank of America Burning was an intense, historical moment of student activism and social justice at UCSB.  It began as a peaceful protest at Perfect Park and spiraled into a community-wide retaliation against all symbols of corrupt justice.  Students sought to fight bigger powers at play such as Bank of America, and clashed with Isla Vista police during the chaotic events that occurred on February 27th, 1970.  

This historic night originated with protests and boycotts of Bank of America, sparked by the students at UCSB.  BOFA had been giving illegal loans to South African countries and indirectly supporting apartheid against government regulations, amongst other unsavory endeavors.  It illegally funneled money to the Pretoria Regime, which consisted of mostly white men in South Africa enforcing discriminatory apartheid rules towards the black population.   By funding their military and economic endeavors, Bank of America was supporting the perpetuation of a deadly racist society in order to gain access to mineral resources in South Africa.  Corporations like these have monetized human suffering for years, and the students in Isla Vista no longer tolerated the blind acceptance of Bank of America’s human rights violations. Supporting apartheid was only one of the numerous reasons why students were against Bank of America; the rest are outlined in archived pamphlets, flyers, and informational documents created for students by students to shed light on the power we hold as consumers to invest in businesses that are economically and socially held accountable for their actions.

 

[Reasons to Boycott BOFA, Bank of America: South Africa File, Box 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

Despite numerous protests, pamphlets, and speeches, people continued to use Bank of America and Bank of America continued to support apartheid, amongst other unsavory endeavors.  And though these students were inspiring change, it wasn’t at the national scale it needed to be to execute a long-lasting, effective boycott by consumers.  This frustration in addition to already tense relations with police officers caused students to attack any symbol of “lawful institution” that tried to control them.

Documented here is a timeline of events that occurred in Isla Vista during the several days that the Bank of American Burning took place:

Kaye, Hillary. (1970, February).  Cops occupy I.V.: injuries. Arrests.  El Gaucho, Retrieved from https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/pr76f457z

 

Student responses to this violent protest were also documented during a Letter To The Editor publication about the Isla Vista Bank Burning.  They shared their opinion on the violence that took hold overnight, and the students’ struggle for worldwide justice versus their struggle for local peace.

 

During the 25 year anniversary of the Bank of America Burning, the Daily Nexus recovered more personal accounts of the night from faculty, students, and local residents that were in the area during the riots:

   [Robertson, Nick. (1995, February).  Witnesses recall the day that caused a ‘State of Emergency’ Declaration in Isla Vista, Retrieved from https://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/3b591979r]

 

This account clarified many misconceptions about the catalyst of the Bank Burning.  William Kuntsler, the chief defense attorney in the “Chicago 8” case, gave a speech at Harder Stadium that people believed would incite a riot.  Cops gathered in Perfect Park, awaiting a massive disturbance, when the students were simply participating in a peaceful union in the park.  “‘They were dressed up in full riot gear, ready for anything. Then came a bunch of peaceful students coming back from the speech. It was an interesting contrast’” (6).  This account of the burning pinpoints Richard Underwood’s violent apprehension as the spark that set off what would be known as one of the most violent instances of chaos, confusion, and destruction in IV history.  

There are more details about the night presented in this special anniversary spread, as well as  snippets of resident testimonies and personal recollections of the events that occurred:

 

 

[ROBERTSON, NICK. (1995, FEBRUARY).  WITNESSES RECALL THE DAY THAT CAUSED A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’ DECLARATION IN ISLA VISTA, RETRIEVED FROM HTTPS://WWW.ALEXANDRIA.UCSB.EDU/DOWNLOADS/3B591979R]

 

The testimonies surrounding the Isla Vista Bank Burning portray a closer look into the resident mentality during this state of mass destruction and violent chaos.  The events that spiraled out between students and police officers originated with Bank of America’s devotion to profit from human suffering. Students in IV protested such gross mistreatment through gatherings, marches, and informational flyers.  The goal of the Perfect Park protest wasn’t to destroy the city they live in; the people simply wanted their voices heard and concerns acted upon. They wanted some semblance of control on their side and to make a change on behalf of those who couldn’t speak for themselves.  This doesn’t excuse the violence that erupted out of this movement, nor does it attack the actions of the police officers attempting to quell this event. It merely emphasizes the deep-seated rift between those who seek to enact and those who enforce justice in Isla Vista.


Works Cited

[“Bank of America and South Africa” article, Bank of America: South Africa, 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[“Looking for a Place to Bank?  Five Good Reasons to Consider Avoiding the Bank of America” flyer, Bank of America: South Africa, 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 21. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.