Last week, UCSB students followed up the widely reported student strike with an event called Peace Out University. From Tuesday to Friday, some professors lectured to their classes on the topic of the war in Iraq, with some even doing so Isla Vista’s Anisq’Oyo’ Park. They were mostly discussions, open to the public, and schedules were posted online as well as in the park.
I got to attend a class on campus called “Social Movements and Revolutions in the Middle East” with John Foran, a sociology professor. Usually, this was his cultural studies class; it was held on my home turf of the Little Old Theater in the College of Creative Studies building. After introductions, each student from the class read selections from the book Night Draws Near by Anthony Shadid, highlighting points from the two chapters they each were assigned. The main focus was on the potential Iraq had before the war, as characters in the book reminisced about the past and compared it to the present. Aside from me, one other student from outside the normal class attended.
I sat in on the beginning of John Foran’s next class, “How To Make Radical Social Change.” Here, no one came from outside the normal class, perhaps because it wasn’t posted on any of the schedules with the other sessions. I spoke with Foran on the walk between classes and found that he admired the idea of following inaction up with the action of learning, but he said he thought that it could have been more centralized.
Friday night, February 23, bands played in Anisq’Oyo’ park for students and coordinators to let off some steam from the past couple weeks of political activity. Although the night was cold and hands were even colder, it only made a good excuse to get closer together and dance as much as possible, especially since the kind souls who organized the event worked hard for an alcohol permit. Oso brought it together, as the trio’s tribal beats ─ reminiscent of Mice Parade ─ were jammed and jazzed out over funky bass lines and shouting gang vocals. Blues/rock band Ambidextrous played next, with soulful singing and jam-style songs that got everyone’s hips moving. Last but certainly not least was Other Nature who played classic rock songs ranging from blues to jazz to straight party rock.
It all provided for a great vibe; it was clear that the encouragement in the atmosphere strengthened the crowd, as in between bands the microphone was open for anyone to speak their mind. It felt like a movement. More upcoming events were announced throughout the show including Critical Mass IV on March 17, when they plan to collectively ride bikes down Hollister Avenue all the way to downtown Santa Barbara to join another group downtown rallying against the war. Updates will be available online here at SBAntiWar.com and at the page for the Facebook club page dedicated to the effort.