UC Santa Barbara tragedy receives support across UC system

Ariel Hayat/Staff
Students listen to speakers Monday night during a candlelight vigil at UCLA's Royce Quad. The vigil, one of many that will be held at campuses across the UC system this week, was held in solidarity with UC Santa Barbara after Friday's massacre.

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In the wake of Friday’s tragic events in Isla Vista, UC Santa Barbara’s sister campuses across the UC system have offered their support to mourn the victims and help the shaken campus recover.

On Friday evening, Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage in Isla Vista — near the UCSB campus — killing six students and wounding 13 others. Rodger stabbed to death three victims inside his apartment and fatally shot another three before reportedly taking his own life.

After the deadly rampage, UC President Janet Napolitano expressed her sadness about the loss of students’ lives and emphasized the importance of the UC community in supporting UCSB.

“I ask that you join me in the belief that the process of healing and reflection we will go through in the coming days will draw us closer as a university community,” Napolitano said in a statement Monday. “Together, we will get through this.”

Napolitano also announced that flags will fly at half-staff on all UC campuses through Sunday to pay respect to the lives of the victims.

On UCSB’s campus, classes were canceled Tuesday to hold a day of mourning and reflections. More than 17,000 people attended a memorial service held in the afternoon.

Additionally, various groups and individuals have organized events — including a meeting for public safety, a community forum and a concert dedicated to victims — since Monday to happen throughout the Isla Vista Week of Solidarity.

To show solidarity with UCSB and the families of the victims, other campuses across the UC system have held individual candlelight vigil services. The vigil service on the Santa Barbara campus took place Saturday, while vigils on all the other nine UC campuses are happening throughout this week. UC Berkeley’s vigil service took place on Memorial Glade Wednesday evening.

Ali Guthy, UCSB’s student body president, said she appreciated the support the UCSB and Isla Vista community have received from their sister campuses and from across the world.

“The solidarity we’ve been seeing across the UC system has really been inspiring to students here,” Guthy said. “I just ask that the support continue in the weeks and months to come.”

Jo Downes, a UC Berkeley graduate student and one of the organizers of UC Berkeley’s vigil service, said she was inspired by the vigils organized on other UC campuses and wanted to support UCSB and Isla Vista.

“It’s a community that’s very, very dear to my heart,” Downes, who attended UCSB for her undergraduate degree, said. “It’s really heartening to see how everyone has come together.”

The campus administration is supporting the vigil service, helping with the event’s logistics and security as well as providing candles and other equipment.

UC Berkeley and other UC campuses have also offered counseling services and other aid to UCSB, which has not yet needed UC Berkeley’s help, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“We’re part of a community of 10 campuses … We’re connected by virtue of who we are and what we do,” Mogulof said. “As the days go by after every incident like this, no matter which college campus, it’s our policy to look at and evaluate our own practices.”

ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula echoed the need to grow from this tragedy by reviewing and improving policies on campus. He did, however, point to the danger of using this event to focus on policy changes while victims’ families and other communities are still recovering.

The tragedy has sparked national conversation about larger issues including gun control laws and violence against women. Since Friday’s massacre, during which his 20-year-old son was fatally shot, Richard Martinez has emerged as a face of gun control reform and spoke at UCSB’s memorial service, calling for an end to gun violence.

Misogyny also became a topic of national and international debate soon after the killing spree, which was ostensibly motivated by hatred toward women. Hundreds of thousands took to Twitter to share their experiences as the hashtag #YesAllWomen went viral.

But student leaders, including Gutry and Upadhyayula, said they were hesitant to concentrate on political issues that could draw away from mourning and remembering the victims.

“I can guarantee that we’ll be working on some policy reform on campus in the near future, but, as of right now, we are still mourning and grieving,” Gutry said. “There will be a time to address issues, but for us it’s not right now. We need more time before we can move forward and direct action toward anything.”

Somin Park is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_sominpark.