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UC Santa Barbara pro-Hamas encampment now an ‘autonomous society’

Demanded free food at its ‘Dining Hall Liberation’ demonstration

The pro-Hamas encampment at the University of California Santa Barbara recently was treated to a glowing review in the school’s student newspaper, saying it has transformed into “a place of community, solace and growth.”

The so-called “UC Santa Barbara Liberated Zone” is now an “autonomous society” according to the Daily Nexus, where “participating students and community members alike” can partake of various activities such as meditation, “Palestine teach-ins,” and listening to “music for liberation.”

UCSB’s encampment has been extant for about five weeks and counting.

The Daily Nexus’ Anushka Dastidar writes that members of the new Liberated Zone are still hoping to “reach the negotiation table alongside University administration,” but in the meantime have “focused on ‘giving back to the community,’ creating bonds between its members and fostering a positive learning environment.”

The LZ has “no singular leader or governing board,” and its members “rotate” responsibilities (areas include “security, media, medic[ine], outreach and demands) in what they dub a “horizontal leadership structure.”

From the article:

People interested in joining the encampment are given the option at orientation to participate in the committee of their choice. Once onboarded, members have the option to be involved in any other committee’s conversations, ensuring everyone’s voice is equally heard, according to Bradley.

The group has aimed to uphold these standards by incorporating open conversations about topics such as global liberation and open consciousness into their programming, and maintaining regular community check-in meetings. …

Organizers of the encampment said they aim to make it a safe space for students to practice spirituality and their religion. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) consistently gathers for public prayer sessions at the encampment. Journaling sessions, mental health checks, facilitated breathwork and guided yoga and meditation classes are also frequently held.

The Liberated Zone uses art to build community, through art workshops, poetry readings and more. Participants are encouraged to bring instruments and perform songs together during music sessions; most recently the Liberated Zone held a performance of Arabic music on May 25.

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The LZ’s art workshops have included the creation of posters and chalkings to hang up/scrawl all around campus. One LZ member was “disheartened” that chalkings often are washed away by maintenance in the middle of the night; chalk “is washable” so it’s not “vandalism,” the member said.

On the weekend of Mother’s Day, the Liberated Zone featured a chat on the “traditions of revolutionary mothering” along with a recognition of the “struggles of mothers in Palestine.”

Unsurprisingly, “many homeless” have found their way to the LZ where they’ve gotten “shelter and solace” in addition to free food. In fact, the LZ held a “Dining Hall Liberation/Free Food Now!” protest last week:

Earlier this year at UCSB, the Black Studies Department organized a “day of interruption” to show its displeasure at administrative measures to protect Jewish students. In February, a pro-Hamas protest at the Multicultural Center included placards stating Zionists were persona non grata. 

In early March, the UCSB Feminist Studies Department put out a statement saying its faculty were “unflinching lovers of freedom and proud members of the collectives at UCSB fighting for Palestinian liberation and an end to the genocide in Gaza.”

MORE: Shocking details from UCSB’s divestment vote emerge: Student recounts 8 hours of Jew bashing

IMAGES: UCSB Liberated Zone/X, Instagram

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