Last week, self-proclaimed UCSB students created a Facebook page for a “UCSB White Student Union.” Though the organization contains “UCSB” in its name, it is not affiliated with the university, its administration, or any of the other White Student Unions that emerged last week from multiple college campuses across the nation. As of today, the organization’s page has 196 “likes,” different links to mainstream media coverage, and a number of posts by Facebook users commending, and — more commonly — criticizing its message.
According to the Facebook page, the UCSB White Student Union (WSU) “seeks to challenge its membership to actively address political, social, and cultural injustices while at the same time celebrating and acknowledging the advancement of People of European Descent (PED) at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Beyond.”
Hoping to get further information about the WSU movement, its goals, and its grievances, The Independent had the chance to interview an anonymous spokesperson for the group. According to the spokesperson, WSU hopes to “create a safe space for the celebrating of white identities at UCSB,” an agenda the group embraced after experiencing “marginalization of white identities” and “structural racism” on campus.
UCSB students have been actively criticizing the group since its culmination, posting various comments ranging from respectfully denouncing the group to profanity-laced accusations of the group starkly exhibiting white privilege. Undergraduate student Trina Lazzara writes, “‘White’ heritage is racism. The concept of ‘whiteness’ was created by and for self-proclaimed ‘white’ people for the sole purpose of enslaving, oppressing, killing, and excluding people of color in America and elsewhere. If you disagree, read a few history books.”
“Many have reported hearing the phrase ‘stupid white people.’ One student reports that he was called a ‘stupid cracker’ when waiting at a line in a store in Isla Vista. This is evidence of structural racism and marginalization of white identities,” said the anonymous WSU representative.
According to a 2004 Race and Public Policy Conference at the Center for Racial Justice Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, structural racism is defined as “the most pervasive form of racism —all other forms of racism (e.g. institutional) emerge from structural racism.”
On Monday, the organization released a detailed list of seven demands they are pushing to UCSB Administration and affiliated institutions, including the designation of four white-student-only rooms at UCSB’s Anacapa Residence Hall to be called “The Hernan Cortes Housing Commons.” The group also demands funding, campus police support, and a direct $300,371 donation from Chancellor Henry Yang. The group has also scheduled a “White Student Walk Out” for January 19th, 2016. “We will march out (preferably chanting something inspiring on the way out) and meet outside of the UCSB MultiCultural Center, where we will respectfully voice our complaints. We ask that only self-identified white students and @llies join us,” says the Facebook event description.
Many students have commented on the group’s various posts, questioning the authenticity of its agenda. However, WSU has remained adamant that its agenda is serious. As of now, UCSB and its affiliated institutions have not recognized the legitimacy of the group, nor have they publicly responded to its message or demands.