Note to reader: This letter is a Call-In to our community, compiled with reflection and advice that graduated student leaders and past City on a Hill Press editors want to share with you.
We graduated this year. Just like that — goodbye college, goodbye Santa Cruz.
The redwoods we called our home hold the memories we’ve made here, and soon they will hold new ones. Yours.
From the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) strikes in 2020, to recurring power outages, and enduring a global pandemic — taking a moment for those we lost — our time here is a part of a legacy and a history.
Students spent this time with community members beyond the hill coming together to fight for each other.
Too much is going on in this world to walk alone. I know, I’ve tried it. And in those moments, every step felt like a trudge. We had to move together, so that’s what we did.
We moved like birds in the sky, a sight to behold, our murmurations denting the status quo as we knew it. And like birds, the more of us who flocked together, the more pronounced our moves became.
Going forward, one piece of advice comes to mind. It’s what Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones said this spring to the newest graduates of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Policy.
“Disrupt, dismantle, and discover.”
In our time here, we’ve watched our friends, colleagues and even ourselves enact what Jones calls the “three Ds.”
When we saw hundreds and hundreds of students walk out of class to block the base of campus for our TA, the life forces of our institution, the call to join them was too compelling to ignore. From a COLA to free tuition — what our systems deemed radical began to feel possible. Like the instant of the Big Bang, that moment exploded.
That was in 2020, when TAs held their first strike for a COLA. A fight that started as a wildcat at UCSC in many of our first years at university grew outwards, and will continue on.
Capitalism facilitates a fast-moving society. A paradigm shift warrants a level of change some people may not be prepared for. We must continue to disrupt that current to cultivate the life we are entitled to.
And then, when this campus became a near ghost town, our communities moved to the Cloud and uncharted territories of Zoom. We took some time, but the murmur was becoming louder. Injustice was roaring, and we needed to fight.
After the murder of George Floyd, our comrades in the Black Student Union were hard at work to make sure that Black students were being listened to and taken care of by our institution, and out came the Unrelenting Anti-Blackness of 2020 demands list.
Manifesting real change requires us to reconstruct everything we know about how oppressive systems and institutions maintain their power and allow systemic injustice to metastasize. Only then can we begin to understand our complacency in these systems, wrought with structural issues and contradictions.
In our own communities and even beyond, we are agents of the change we envision.
Right now, our world is living through climate collapse, threats to democracy, and ignorance.
More than ever, your involvement in our community is vital. With the primaries just around the corner, and Election Day 2024 about a year away, our voices are the most important ones out there.
Don’t let things pass you. Don’t stay passive — now more than ever. Through our years here at UCSC, our voices kept us afloat, along with the connections we made together. You are joining a legacy of student leaders who have fought for the livelihood they deserve and envision. Students fought to keep these organizations alive and thriving. And you will too.
A friend once said, “we no longer just have to survive, we deserve to thrive.”
Through the marine layer and the redwood trees run two life forces: legacy and community. We leave to pass the legacy on to you, and welcome you into this community.
Though we may not know your name, we welcome you with open arms, and we love you. That is what community is, and it’s here for you.
Though we have graduated, we are not really saying goodbye.
We challenge you to keep challenging yourself and the institutions around you. We call you in to get involved, and keep up the fight. Love others with open arms and like birds, move together.
So much is at stake, we need all of us.
Past City on a Hill Press Editors and Student Leaders