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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Endrijonas causes controversy over message sent to SBCC community

Delaney Newhouse
Illustration by Delaney Newhouse depicts anger from Instagram commenters on SBCC’s official Instagram account regarding Superintendent-President Erika Endrijonas’s message regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The illustration was created on Canva.

City College Superintendent-President Erika Endrijonas sparked controversy when she sent an email on Wednesday, Oct. 11, addressing escalating violence in the Gaza Strip after attacks by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group, prompting Israel to mount a siege.

Endrijonas wrote to the City College community, offering “support and resources” to those “affected by these tragic events.” 

After the message was posted to Instagram, commenters objected to framing the ongoing struggle as “acts of terrorism” against Israel without including the context of Israel’s colonization, military action, and violent policing against Palestinians.

“So Palestinian children are not under attack?” wrote commenter Mustafa Nashad. “What a shame, didn’t expect this from SBCC.”

Several commenters noted that the message seemingly contradicted local commitments to indigenous peoples as proclaimed by Santa Barbara City Hall, and noted City College’s lack of recognition for Indigenous People’s Day, which was celebrated on Oct. 6.

“Typical coming from an institution that is currently occupying stolen Chumash land,” reads a comment from UCSB student, Caleb Cavazos.

Advocates for Israel, conversely, commented in support of the post.

“Thank you for making this post even though the mob will be out to get you,” wrote City College film studies student Cooper Vincik along with emojis of an Israeli flag, shaking hands and an American flag.

The official account of Santa Monica College’s men’s volleyball team copied the statement to their instagram story, punctuating their comment, “you’re on the right side of humanity,” with an Israeli flag.

Jordan Killebrew, City College’s new executive director of public affairs and communications, responded to the controversy in a written statement.

“We are focused on supporting our students, faculty, and staff in this tense time with the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine and our intention was never to create additional harm,” the director wrote.

Killebrew reiterated that City College provides services for both students and employees experiencing challenges. Students can access the Health and Wellness Center, and employees can reach out through the school’s employee assistance program.

The public affairs director furthermore cited plans to devise a protocol in which “critical voices” in the community would be consulted before the school released any public statements.

“We plan to work with those affected and create space for voices, especially the most marginalized, to be heard,” he wrote.

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