As a trustee on the SBCC board, I have been made aware of a concerted attack on nonlocal students. Specifically, professionally made bumper stickers and posters that read “Non-Local SBCC Students Go Away” have anonymously surfaced in and around Shoreline Park. In addition, one incoming international student received a private Facebook message from someone saying they were a Santa Barbara resident and telling them to stay away.
These attacks are very close to a hate crime, defined as a prejudice-motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets victims because of their national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. It is surprising to me that some Santa Barbara residents have picked up the banner of recent national and international negativity, and they are echoing the political rhetoric against globalization and international populations including immigrants. Further, they are anonymously acting publicly.
This is not the kind of city we are. I for one don’t want to live in a city that spews hate. Normally these kind of issues are dealt with at the Board of Supervisors, the City Council, or the SBCC Board of Trustees. In Santa Barbara we love democracy and have an active group of residents, but we don’t act anonymously.
At its meeting in June, the Board of Trustees put a cap on international students at 1500 instead of 8 percent of our student body. No one from the public appeared at that meeting. If there were issues with this number, they did not come out.
As the trustee representing the Mesa, I would be glad to meet with anyone on the issue of nonlocal students. Let’s get the facts, identify the problems, and get to work on solutions. That is the Santa Barbara way.