“Azadi, azadi, azadi.”
Freedom, freedom, freedom.
These words echo through city streets across Iran. The weight of injustice and inequality rests on the shoulders of the young, the “radical,” and the revolutionaries.
Zhina “Mahsa” Amini was detained by Iran’s morality police on Sept. 13 for allegedly breaking the country’s dress code for women. Three days later, on Sept. 16, Zhina died in a coma at Kasra Hospital in Tehran, while still in police custody. Zhina was just 22 years old.
Within the day, a protest began outside Kasra Hospital. Since then, not a day has gone by in Iran without a demonstration.
Women cut off their hair in dissent, others parading the streets without their hijabs.
The world is watching while the Iranian government targets university students, who are the ones spearheading this push for democratic change. At the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, students, fearing for their lives, crouch under seats to evade the ruthless attacks of rubber bullets, gas, and paintballs by the Iranian militia.
A peaceful march for the life of a young woman turned grim, quick.
While this upheaval continues, we must not forget that students in our UC system share ancestry with places all over the world — including Iran.
Those protesting in Iran, while separated by distance, include college students just like us. They are college students who are fighting for their freedom, fighting for their lives.
We must show solidarity with our peers.
As an institution of higher education and equal opportunity, the UC’s job is to protect all its students, especially those from marginalized communities, who may feel out of place in a predominantly white space.
So far, at UC Santa Cruz, Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer sent an email almost three weeks after Amini’s death stating how “deeply troubled and saddened” they were about her death and the violent response of the Iranian government to the protests. Posing Counseling and Psychological Services, which is already impacted with too many students, as the sole solution to the matter is insufficient.
UCSC’s Iranian Student Union, along with other Iranian student groups across the UCs, called for the support of University of California President Michael Drake, along with Chancellors and Deans of Students, to acknowledge the unrest in their home country through the following requests:
- Offer an application fee waiver, as the current economic situation and degraded Internet access make paying the fees very difficult for students applying to UC institutions.
- Give a deadline extension for the submission of applications and test scores as students in Iran currently may not have the opportunity to take online-based tests.
- Make a temporary modification to policy to accept unofficial transcripts as university administration and staff have been impacted by the recent events.
Our Iranian students are not asking for a lot.
University of California leaders must see to the needs of their BIPOC students. No matter how small or large the presence of different ethnic groups might be, their demands must be acknowledged and addressed.
We urge our own university as well as other UCs, and the University of California Office of the President, to come together and answer the requests of our fellow students.