On May 23, six UC Santa Barbara students were killed and 13 community members were injured after a Santa Barbara City College student went on a rampage.
Like the many mass shootings that have occurred within the last few years, this incident is tragic and horrifying. The occurrence of incidents like these have prompted discussions regarding what can be done to prevent them in the future.
Over the weekend, we all received emails from Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and UC President Janet Napolitano expressing their sympathies to the UC community and the friends and families of the victims of the attack. Katehi said that it is our responsibility “to seek out those in need and to make our campus safer in thought and in deed.”
While we agree with these sentiments, we cannot help but feel that their words leave out many of the deeper issues raised in light of this tragedy. Although the assailant’s state of mental health was debatably at play in his actions, we cannot ignore that they follow a pattern of violence motivated at least in part by his hatred toward women.
The assailant’s violent acts reflect an extreme manifestation of the deep-seeded misogynistic mentalities prevalent in our culture. In his manifesto, he stated, “I will punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex.” We see this kind of mentality in less-extreme forms in our everyday lives — from issues ranging from microaggressions and party culture to sexual assault.
We agree with what Katehi said about being there for the UC community “in thought and in deed.” But a deed requires action. We hope for a concrete set of changes to be put in place that address these issues.
We ask the UC to reevaluate its general education requirements to add at least one class that tackles the issue of sexism (eg. women’s studies, sociology, cultural studies) so that our community can be educated on the dangers associated with trivializing and ignoring the symptoms of cultural misogyny. In conjunction, we think it’s important that the administration provide us with more accessible and effective emergency resources for victims of sexual abuse and assault.
For example, many victims of sexual assault, who are primarily women, struggle to find out what to do and who to talk to after the attack. Many don’t know how or where to get a rape kit, and many don’t even know what a rape kit is. We ask ourselves why the reported rape cases at UC Davis are back-logged, and why it’s so hard for victims of sexual abuse/assault to see justice served. The ineffective and difficult nature of receiving help reflects the UC’s inadequacy in addressing these issues for its students, and inevitably suggests a form of misogyny ingrained in the administrative system.
In this time of crisis, we hope that those in power may respond in a way that encourages critical thinking about the greater issues at hand. It is the responsibility of the University as an educational institution to prevent ignorance from perpetuating a cycle of discrimination and hatred.
We encourage students to attend the candlelight vigil on the Quad on May 29 as a way to not only express support for those most directly affected and to remember the victims of the attack, but also to go with the intention to educate yourself as well as others on ways to make safer communities.