Bank of America Burning

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.


By: Frances Woo


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.

CIA Officer-In-Residence Program

1987


During the summer of 1987, the CIA arranged the appointment of senior officer George A. Chritton Jr. to the UCSB Political Science Department faculty as a lecturer.  This was part of their new Officer-in-Residence Program, which launched in 1985 as an attempt to, “nurtur[e] relations between intelligence and academia” (Hedley 2008).  For the 87-88 academic year, the agency managed to place senior officers at six U.S. universities, all with faculty status.

Agent Chritton’s appointment had been approved by Professor Dean Mann who, until the start of Fall ‘87, had been the Political Science Department chair. In a letter to Mann dated June 3rd, 1987 from Stanley Moskowitz, the chair of the CIA Training Selection Board at the time, Moskowitz nominated Chritton for the position.  He laid out the agency’s goals for the program and explained that the Agency would fund Chritton’s salary. He stated  the program, “will demonstrate the quality of CIA people…strengthen [the agency’s] professional ties to a fertile and indispensable source of ideas and technical expertise…[and] enhance CIA’s recruiting efforts.”

 To the surprise of both the CIA and UCSB administration, Chritton’s appointment was quickly met with controversy.  UCSB was the first campus where the Officer-In-Residence proved controversial according to Bill Devine, the CIA Public Affairs Officer at the time (Elzer 1987).

It was not until the first Academic Senate meeting of the school year when Chritton’s appointment was made public.  Senate Chair A.E. Keir Nash expressed his concern over the appointment and the irregular hiring process leading the Political Science department to vote on the issue (Moss 1987). On the 28th of October, they voted to demote Chritton’s position to Visiting Fellow, which would prevent him from teaching; however, this vote was only considered advisory to the Cheadle Hall administrators, who ultimately held the hiring authority (Elzer 1987).

The same night as the faculty vote, a bill authored by Dan Zumwinkle passed 14 to 1 by AS Legislative Council.  It called for “faculty, administration, and students to revoke the appointment of CIA agent George A. Chritton Jr. to the UCSB faculty and to take steps to ensure that this incredible situation does not happen again” (Zumwinkle 1987). The bill was presented to the then Chancellor, Barbara Uehling, on the 29th.  It expressed concerns over the implications of the university being affiliated with “such a nefarious organization” (Zumwinkle 1987).  Their main grievances were the morally questionable actions of the CIA, their recruitment on campus, the irregular hiring process, and concerns over the integrity of academic freedom. The bill deadline to dismiss Chritton from any position he may hold at UCSB was set to be November 4th.

On the day following the deadline, AS Student Lobby and Leg Council held a rally urging Chancellor Uehling to dismiss Chritton. The rally was held at noon in front of Cheadle Hall and attracted an estimated 600 people. Rally organizers had arranged for “John Stockwell, the highest-ranking former CIA official to speak out publicly against the agency,” though he was unable to make it due to a flight cancellation (Collins & Elzer 1987).  Following the rally, 150 students occupied the Chancellor’s empty office, stressing that a CIA affiliated faculty member would corrupt the ideals of the university and the school would be “pledged to disinformation”(Collins & Elzer 1987). “If we allow this person to retain an official position within the University of California faculty, then we’re setting a precedent that says it’s okay for members of covert organizations to teach in universities.  Anyone who is interested in preserving the ideals of this university has to oppose this all the way,” explained Todd Gooch, one of the rally organizers (Collins & Elzer 1987). Uehling returned later that day escorted by university police and let  protestors know that Chritton’s appointment was still under review. The students remained inside until Cheadle Hall closed for regular business, at which  point, police began arresting students for trespassing. 38 students were arrested and 35 of those were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for a day.

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, Nov 6, 1987 > Page 1)
(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, November 5, 1987 > Page 3)

Though the anti-CIA sentiment was strongly felt on campus, many wrote to the Nexus voicing their support of Chritton.  The overwhelming defense employed free speech. “I am not defending the CIA as an organization, however, I am defending the rights of individuals…do you not think that you are being just a little selfish by not letting somebody express their view?”, read one Letter to the Editor by Lawrence Leak.  Another letter by Gregory Apt expressed a similar concern over freedom of speech.  “I can only hope that the Academic Senate gets off their fascist, censoring butts and… allow this person to speak here.” 

Two days after Leg Council’s deadline, the day following the rally, the Chancellor announced her decision to keep Chritton as a Visiting Fellow for one year with the possibility of a year extension.  Chritton addressed the public for the first time saying, “The principle of the First Amendment has been upheld. My hope now would be that the volume of the rhetoric is lowered and the quality is raised,” (Elzer 1987).  The Chancellor also cited free speech to defend her decision, stressing that what was of utmost importance was “freedom of speech and the capacity of a university to provide for the expression of a broad range of ideas” (Elzer 1987).  The opposition viewed this decision as “blatant disrespect of student and faculty opinion,” Rob Christiansen told the Nexus (Elzer 1987)

The opposition insisted that Chritton’s appointment was more than just a symbolic gesture to preserve free speech and would legitimize the actions of the agency, as said in Elijah Lovejoy’s Letter to the Editor

To support the CIA is to support destabilization tactics and murder, just so that big American corporations can keep you supplied with your conformist bourgeois life, I refuse to admit that the CIA has any legitimacy whatsoever and am appalled at the thought of having those spooks on Campus.

 Others ridiculed the Chancellor for employing the free speech defense, like Brian Haley in the Nexus:

I know that I speak for all members of this campus community who have yet risen through the ranks of either the university or the CIA to the lofty positions of faculty when I thank the good chancellor for clarifying that freedom of speech is a right which I have not yet earned.

The opposition maintained that the appointment had nothing to do with free speech but everything to do with academic freedom; they insisted that an “agency of disinformation has no place in an institution dedicated to the truth” (Liles 1987).  On November 16th, approximately 75 students delivered a coffin to the office of the Chancellor  as a representation of the death of academic freedom.  “We’re here to present the first of many casualties to result from the appointment of senior CIA Officer George A. Chritton to the UCSB political science department,” Jamie Acton told the Nexus during the protest (Sullivan 1987)

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, Nov 17, 1987 > Page 1)

Some even criticized the academic freedom defense for looking past the CIA’s moral transgressions. Sandy Liles wrote in the Nexus

What I find repellent is the element of self-righteous indignation: bad enough that the CIA should carry out torture, assassinations, and destabilization; God forbid they should invade our guiltless bastion of free thought. 

In response to Professor Robinson’s question, “How can a university, a place of free inquiry, coexist with a government or any other institution which operates under secrecy?”, the opposition  held a five-hour “Teach-in” exploring the relationship between universities and the U.S. government. “It was pointed out to us that if we just focused on the CIA…we’re missing a much broader picture, a much larger vision of the federal government in general and their involvement in the university,” Jaime Acton, Student Lobby Annex Director, told the Nexus (Sullivan 1988).  One pamphlet for the event read, “UCSB is abundant with examples of academic orientation toward the interests of the military-industrial complex,” (Moss 1988).  The Teach-in was organized by the Student Lobby for the Academic Freedom Defense Project, which raised money for the legal defense for the students arrested back in November, though the proceedings eventually ended in a mistrial.  The event was held on Jan 28th, 1988, hosting several speakers including UCSB professors and ex-CIA agent Vern Lyon, who spoke about his involvement with spying on university campuses.

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, Jan 29, 1988 > Page 1)

On May 3rd, 1988, the Political Science faculty voted not to reappoint Chritton due to lack of qualifications (Whalen 1988).  Patrick Whalen’s Daily Nexus article announcing the decision read:

The decision ends nearly six months of unrest among UCSB students, faculty and staff who were outraged when they learned last October that a CIA agent was teaching on campus. Chritton, 55, will leave the university by June 30, when his current appointment is scheduled to end.

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, May 9, 1988 > Page 6)

 


By: Gabriel Macias

Faculty Club Bombing

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.


By: Yiyang Zhao

Take Back The Night

1978


The 1970s were filled with monumental changes for women’s rights in the United States, and much of this history can be traced through our very own UCSB community. The first Take Back the Night protest in the US likely took place in San Francisco in 1978, which catalyzed an eruption of marches across the states. Take Back the Night (TBTN) organizations and movements serve to raise awareness of domestic, sexual, and relationship violence, topics that continue to be ignored and undermined to this day.  In 1979, UCSB held its first TBTN protest in response to both the national movement and local hostility. This TBTN student organization continues to thrive, bringing awareness to a topic still ignored to this day.

TBTN organizations across the nation formed during a time of hostile national debates over the necessity for equal rights. The debate around the passing of the Equal Right Amendment not only fueled antagonism between women and men but within the feminist movement itself. Those who supported the passing of the ERA, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), saw it as a vital step towards eliminating gender-based discrimination. Others saw it as both regressive for women’s rights and the beginning of the complete destruction of traditional American society.

 

[“Women’s Right Resolution Halted”, Women, Box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Santa Barbara community was facing hostility on a local level as well. The Isla Vista Women’s Center, hoping to provide refuge for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, initially struggled to assert its presence in the community and receive financial support.

[“Women’s Center seeks funds to continue”, Women, Box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

 

[“New Location Forcing Center to Close Women’s Crash Pad”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[“Need for Tougher Sentencing Told by ‘Battered Wives’ Author”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

 

[“Task Force Member Indicates Need for Emergency Shelters for ‘Battered Women’”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

Take Back the Night protests were also fueled by the efforts of the Santa Barbara chapter of NOW, which formed in solidarity with the Women’s Center

[“NOW Aims at Womens Issues”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

The first Take Back the Night protests at UCSB had to face issues with the police Santa Barbara Police Department, who were initially not willing to close State Street for the march because of the extra police they would have to station. While they eventually came to an agreement (see “Santa Barbara Women March Tomorrow – No fear of attack”), this was not the only compromise the organizers had to make. As with many Take Back the Night protests across the country, men had been asked to walk behind the marchers, both as a symbolic gesture and as a form of protection. Jennifer Freed, co-coordinator of 1983 protest, called it a “poor compromise to have men back up the march and walk behind”, but that was a compromise that had to be made “until there is total freedom and equality for everyone”.

[“Santa Barbara Women March Tomorrow – No Fear of Attack”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[“Local Marchers Light the Night”, Women, box 58]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 41. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

As women’s rights organizations have gained momentum over the past forty years, so has UCSB’s Take Back the Night organization. Current co-chair of UCSB’s Take Back the Night Julianne Amores sees the organization as vital, since “we are the people who make the changes on campus, and we can’t wait for other people to make the changes”. Not only has the organization increased in membership and support, but is continuing to strive for diverse and intersectional perspectives. Amores accounts how “especially this year, I think we’ve become more inclusive, because I know TBTN traditionally was about women, but now we’re really acknowledging that it can really happen to any gender, anybody, any race” The organization hosts an annual spring rally and meetings throughout the quarter that provide a safe space for people to talk about their experiences and listen to others. Amores happily encourages everyone to attend the 2019 spring rally, which will be held on April 16th from 3:00-7:00 in between Storke Tower and the bike paths
Our community is still struggling to adequately address sexual, relationship, and domestic violence. One in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there, and UCSB is no exception. Both listening and speaking up are vital to promoting equality, and UCSB’s Take Back the Night is continuing to do just that.


By: Sophia Chupein


Works Cited

Amores, J. 2019, February 27th. Personal interview

UCSB Special Collections

Photo Gallery


[Support Group Comic, Students, box 12]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. SBHC Mss 44. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

[Materials provided by Julianne Amore]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Hunger Strikes

April-May 1994


In 1994, eight students participated in a hunger strike from April 27 to May 5. As members of El Congreso, a Chican@/Latin@ support group and political student organization, these students were striking to bring attention to the university’s repeated dismissal of the needs of Chican@ students. They outlined their demands in a statement titled, “Our Struggle,” announcing their strike as part of an effort to “fight for a better life for students… to help all peoples who are fighting for social justice.” Students called for actions such as the establishment of a Chican@ Studies Ph.D. program, adherence to the United Farm Workers Union grape boycott, and increased recruitment and retention of Chican@ and Latin@ students.

[(El Congreso, 1994, May 3). “Our Struggle.” Daily Nexus, p. 7. https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/tx31qj818.]

 

Claudia Leiva, Alma Flores, André Vasquez, Edwin Lopéz, Tino Gutierrez, Gilberto Limón, Heather Gonzalez, Salvador Barajas and Naomi Garcia camped out in front of Cheadle Hall during their strike and together with the rest of El Congreso organized rallies to demonstrate further support and push for a response from the administration. During that time, the students only consumed water. This kind of protest was not a sudden or unprecedented course of action. Students also carried out a hunger strike in 1989, with demands including the implementation of a general education ethnicity requirement. The continuous efforts of Chican@ students to push for reform highlights the difficulty of achieving institutional change.

(“Procession – March – Rally” flyer, Folder 1, Box 1). University of California, Santa Barbara, El Congreso Collection, UArch 104. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

[(C-J Conklin, 1994, May 5). “Students, Administrators Still Negotiating.” Daily Nexus, p. 1. https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sf073.]
[(“Viva La Huelga” article, Folder 19, Box 1). University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Ethnic Studies Protests Collection, CEMA 93. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

Reactions to the strike among the students were mixed. Some students decried their tactics as extreme and unnecessary in a series of letters to the Daily Nexus, and others published articles such as Kathryn Mulligan’s “We Whites Want Equality and Justice.” These students didn’t see a pressing need for the fulfillment of El Congreso’s demands or understand the frustrations faced by the Chican@ student population, particularly when dealing with the university.

[(Brett Orlanski, 1994, May 4). “To Die For.” Daily Nexus, p. 10. https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/k930bz15n.]

(“We Whites Want Equality and Justice” article, Folder 19, Box 1). University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Ethnic Studies Protests Collection. CEMA 93. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

Not all of the community reactions were negative. Students also received an outpouring of support from family, faculty, and fellow students. Many students responded in particular to Brett Orlanski’s letter to the editor. One staunch defender called the strike a demonstration of “guts, intent and unbending will.” Others, such as the A.S. Women’s Commission, simply shared their belief that “the issues the students are striking for – fees, EOP, the Chicana/o Studies Dept., the grape boycott and a diversified student body – concern us all.” They recognized the strike as a response to a pattern of neglect and indifference.

 

 

[(1994, May 5). “Striking Distance.” Daily Nexus, p. 5. https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/mp48sf073.]

 

After a series of meetings and email exchanges with the administration, the strikers ended their fast on May 5, bringing the length of their strike up to nine days. The administration and students signed a formal agreement delineating the university’s commitment to meeting El Congreso’s demands. Students, parents, and supporters celebrated, viewing the event as a step forward for the Chican@ student community.

[(“Hunger Strike Ends with Agreement And Breaking of Bread” article, Box 1). University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Ethnic Studies Protests Collection. CEMA 93. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

[(“Status of Hunger Strike Demands” flyer, Box 1). University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Ethnic Studies Protests Collection. CEMA 93. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

A follow-up on the status of those demands, however, showed a lack of progress and lagging implementation of the points formally agreed to by the university. This kind of non-response demonstrates the difficulty of achieving reform at a college campus full of administrative roadblocks. Despite the slow initial progress, the efforts of the strikers and El Congreso paid off. In a fact sheet describing their demands, students said that “these issues are not new. These demands are not new. It has been 25 years and the administration still has not kept its promises or fulfilled its responsibilities to students and the community… we want to see results now, not in another 25 years.” Twenty-five years later, UCSB has a strong Chican@ Studies department and PH.d. program. Students must push continuously for their voices to be heard and valued by the university, and even then progress is often slow and frustrating.  


By: Mara Stojanovic

Vietnam War Protests

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.


By: Sophia Chupein

North Hall Takeover

October 14th, 1968


“Today Black University students, like the Black freedom movement of which they are a leading part, take change within the community as the point of departure for their social and political involvement.”


On October 14th, 1968, members of the Black Student Union organized to give voice to campus injustice.  They demanded that UCSB take action to support the Black students on campus and implement a Black Studies Department educating students and faculty alike about the complexities of the Black experience.  Sixteen members pioneered the movement, barricading themselves in the North Hall computer center around 6:30am:

(Bettinger, Oct. 1968, El Gaucho)

 

They were tired of being ignored and took to North Hall to force the Chancellor to accept this list of demands:

  • “The establishment of a commission designed to investigate problems resulting from personal or individual racism
  • The development of a college of Black Studies
  • Reaffirmation of President Hitch’s directive calling for increased hiring of minority persons
  • The hiring of a black female counselor for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
  • The appointment of black coaches ‘whenever this becomes possible’
  • Non-condonement of any harassment by any students, whatever color
  • The development of a community relations staff ‘to be actively prosecuted’
  • Asking for the firing of Athletic Director Jack Curtice and Arthur Gallon, head of the Physical Activities department” (Bettinger, 1968).

According to Bettinger, there was a tentative mood shift throughout the protest, beginning with a small crowd of students throwing food at the Black students barricading the hall, to around 1,000 people supporting these students by bringing them food and maintaining a mellow crowd.  

Andrea Estrada’s article reflecting on the North Hall Takeover 50 Years Later says, “UC Santa Barbara undergraduate Booker Banks played a key role in the occupation, using a microphone to mesmerize, inform and entertain the large number of white students who surrounded the building”.

Sanya Kamidi and Sofia Mejias-Pascoe, Assistant News Editors for the Daily Nexus, report that, “students planned the ‘high-risk operation’ two weeks in advance.  BSU members located all the exits in the building, prepared for attempted infiltration from police and threats of violence. They also determined how they would communicate and negotiate with key players on the outside” in their article titled, 50 Years, 12 Student and the Takeover That Changed Everything.

During the protest, there were several instances of opposition, from individual outcries to one student physically attempting to end the demonstration:

(Henry, Oct. 1968, El Gaucho)

 

The Black students inside deterred him using a fire extinguisher, and as Dooley was being treated for a slashed hand, he said, “‘Their gripes are petty…there’s no real racism on this campus, nothing overt anyway’”.

Later that day, Chancellor Vernon I. Cheadle accepted 7 out of 8 recommendations, not agreeing to the demand to fire the “Athletic Director Jack Curtis and Arthur Gallon, head of the Physical Activities department”.

Almost a year after negotiations, the Proposal For a Black Studies Program at UCSB was finally created, outlining the administrative and academic set-up of the department.  The introduction states, “Black Studies, thus, represent the conceptualization and programming of the Black community’s aspirations as they affect the university…in short, Black students are seeking to realize a genuine freedom of expression within the university and society-at-large”. 

[Proposal For a Black Studies Program at UCSB, Proposal for Black & Chicano Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Black Studies Records, UArch 14, Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

In the Spring of 1968, one year before the North Hall Takeover, the Afro-American Student Union proposed a similar UC-wide document titled Proposal For Establishing a Black Studies Program to the University of California.  

[Proposal For Establishing a Black Studies Program, Original Formation of Black Studies,, 1968-1971, University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Black Studies Records, UArch 14, Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

 

In it, they stipulate the same goals and issues that the BSU expressed during the North Hall Takeover.  This document, published months before the Takeover, may have possibly served as inspiration and influenced the BSU’s  demand for change at UCSB.

When the administration ignored their griefs, Black students turned towards each other to fight against the injustice they experienced on campus.  BSU members faced a myriad of obstacles, including threats of suspension, a violent student, and an unsure, tense crowd, to make their voices heard.  The North Hall Takeover stands as a powerful example of student action, and opened the door for establishing future Ethnic and Gender Studies departments at UCSB.


By: Frances Woo