Student Power: Why I ♡ UCSB
As a UCSB alumni and staff member in several different campus departments throughout the years, my roots to the UCSB community runs deep. In my last decade of service, from my former responsibilities as Director of the Office of Student Life and currently the Dean of Students, the victories, adversaries, and tragedies of this campus and the surrounding areas have strengthened my commitment and admiration of this community. In times of hardship, I have looked to student leaders as much as career staff for guidance, innovation, and inspiration.
Throughout my years here, I’ve witnessed protests, facilitated conversations, and have reviewed, interrogated, and created policies in order to accommodate the students we are serving. In the face of controversy, I’ve had to navigate gray areas of student safety and student empowerment. From funding of contentious events, issues regarding freedom of expression and speech, and moments where student and administrative needs clash, I’ve sat deeply with and in those spaces, with the student body, with student leadership, and with Student Affairs staff, attempting a resolution. Opening up communication between groups, making sure that students were participating in dialogue that directly impacted them, and including them in the actions have been beneficial during my time here. And these experiences, the good and the bad and the heavy, is where I feel the most authentic. It’s these spaces that are the heart of change.
In the aftermath of the 2014 tragedy in Isla Vista, in amalgamation of several other events and advocacy, grew the I ♡ UCSB Campaign and Pledge. The devotion to walk through the streets with grace, not despite the grief but honoring it, shows the compassionate and conscientious spirit that our campus community represents. This Pledge carries that wisdom, that history, and promises to continue growing. With more celebrations and challenges to come, I remind myself to remember my lessons. Communicate, collaborate, meet students where they are by being present, inclusive, and flexible.
- Katya Armistead