FLASHBACK 2019-2020

UCSB ASSOCIATED STUDENTS

INTRODUCTION

This introduction has two parts. The first was written at the beginning of spring quarter, the second as spring quarter was coming to a close. It reflects the tragic events that bookended the quarter, events that brought into sharp focus the many challenges faced by this generation of students at UCSB and by our organization.

Part 1: These lines are being written from the new reality of sheltering in place and working from home in anticipation of an exponential increase in illnesses and deaths from the corona virus here in California and beyond. We can only hope it spares our students, staff, faculty, loved ones and everyone who shares this beautiful and bountiful blue planet of ours. We have become keenly aware of our shared humanity and of the abiding importance of caring and resilience. And of how much we rely on simple human contacts and face-to-face interactions to keep us healthy and whole. 

The current feeling of foreboding is in sharp contrast to the anticipation and promise that greeted the new year here at Associated Students. Students participate in AS to get things done, to tackle issues they’re passionate about, to take initiative, host events, and otherwise engage their fellow students and the larger community. This year was no exception. The year progressed towards spring quarter in its usual cadences, with many real achievements and overcoming the usual challenges. And then, as winter quarter was heading into finals week, the campus, for all intents and purposes shut down, even if not officially. All instruction and finals went online and students were urged to pack up and go home as soon as they could. It got even more surreal when word came from the Chancellor’s Office that all classes were to be taught online for the entire spring quarter and that only a skeleton crew of staff would be allowed to work on campus. At AS, all public events needed to be canceled. Students and staff entered the new world of Zoom conferencing and relying on Slack channels to get word about what happens next. Talk about uncharted territory! 

To AS’s enduring credit, the organization rallied. Students and staff confronted the new reality with creativity and urgency to make sure that, as much as possible, AS continued to serve students, the campus, and the local community. It was indeed a herculean effort. The effort did pay dividends. The AS and campus elections went smoothly despite the fact that campaigning, voting, and the posting of results all happened online. Although the drama of election night in the Hub was sadly absent, executive officers and senators were elected, and all lock-in re-affirmations and new fees passed with well over the 20% minimum threshold of voters participating to ensure a valid election. But, of course, especially for graduating seniors, this year ended with so much lost, including participation in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of commencement—shaking Chancellor Yang’s hand and the festive public celebration of all the hard work and dedication that makes UCSB students the stand-outs they truly are. We wish all our graduates well with all their future endeavors!     

Part 2: The year ended with the brutal murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis and its aftermath. Across the country and at UCSB people took to the streets to express their rage, sometimes violently. They demanded justice and a long overdue reckoning with the persistent acts of police brutality that disproportionately single out African Americans and other people of color. Black Lives Matter! Students affirmed this and called out the university and their peers to confront their own biases and the historical legacy and consequences of white supremacy. They challenged themselves, AS, and the university to be better against the backdrop of an America who’s elected leaders have openly abetted white supremacist groups marching through our streets displaying Nazi emblems. AS supported their efforts and will always walk and act in solidarity with students who challenge a destructive status quo. It’s the only way we can move forward towards a more inclusive university and country that thrive on diversity and welcome immigrants from across the globe to enrich our communities.

A.S. is a large, dynamic, and continually evolving organization. Capturing the full scope of its activities and initiatives is challenging, to say the least! If you have information, text, photos, videos, etc., you would like added to this account, contact flashback.editor@as.ucsb.edu.