Unity Through Community

Student orgs respond to College Republicans

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As the sun set, communities of color at UC Santa Cruz rose, with over seventy people gathered in the Quarry Plaza for hours of motivational speeches, spoken word and dance performances hosted by student
organizations.

The gathering, called Solidarity for Action and Resistance program, was a community healing event on Wednesday night.

The event was a response to UCSC’s College Republicans (CR) hosting guest speaker David Horowitz, a conservative writer who equates progressive politics with totalitarianism and declared UC Santa Cruz as the worst college in the U.S. The CR’s event saw about 30 attendees. In response, the community healing event in the Quarry sought to bring marginalized communities together.

“We wanted to focus on what solidarity was specifically because our communities are under attack at the [College Republican’s] event,” said Brenda Gutierrez Ramirez, co-chair of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA). “We wanted to make sure that we are all taking care of each other. Not just through our words, but our actions.”

Unity among oppressed communities at UCSC was the overarching theme of the event. As organizers from MEChA, Anakbayan, Muslim Student Association, Student Union Housing Working Group, PRISM, Bayanihan, BSU, Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance, and  Students for Justice for Palestine came together to create a respectful, safe space of open mindedness, healing and growth.   

“It is overwhelmingly beautiful to see all of these different faces, communities and cultures represented in this space,” Bradley said. “This is unification for folks of color.”

The event began with unity chants from ethnic organizations of color such as MEChA and BSU, and transitioned into motivational speeches about assisting fellow community members and respecting one another’s cultures. Spoken word poetry about self love, police brutality and the opposition of color blindness followed and an African Student Union dance troupe and MSA comedy performance closed out the first half of the event.

Students came together and created a restorative justice circle. An organizer stood in the middle leading the group through breathing exercising and meditative healing. The circle was committed to healing the tension caused by the presence of Horowitz and the tension underrepresented groups feel in everyday life closed the event.

“We are used to just ignoring what is going on and continuing on with our day,” Brenda Gutierrez Ramirez said. “[…] So we created a space where we actually take note of our feelings and emotions and actually do or practice healing with each other.”

The nine organizations decided to host the event after receiving overwhelming requests from their members for a safe space.

“There is an old African proverb that says if you want to run fast you run alone, if you want to run far you run together,” Bradley said “[…] That proverb speaks to the fact that if you really want to make it, if you really want to soar, you have to depend on your community members.”

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Farrah Safari is the Campus Desk editor at City on a Hill Press. She reported for city desk from winter to spring quarter of 2018. During this time, she found that her passion for journalism centered around investigative reporting— uncovering corrupt institutions and revealing the truth behind oppressive systems and practices. She is a literature and sociology double major with a concentration in world studies and a proposed film and digital media minor. Although she focuses most of her energy on City on a Hill Press she is also the vice president of ADCMP, the African Dysphoria Chain Mentorship Program, a member of African Student Union (ASU) and participates in slam poetry competitions.