May 15, 2024

Source: KFMB San Diego

By: Kelly Hessedal

The Sun God Festival scheduled for this weekend at UC San Diego has been cancelled, according to school administrators.

The 40-year tradition draws thousands of students for an evening of live music, art, and dancing. The announcement was made Thursday evening.

“Due to ongoing protest activity adjacent to Library Walk, our campus security resources that would otherwise be available to ensure the safety and security of the people participating in Sun God must be deployed elsewhere to support the overall security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors, and ensure the continuity of operations and the fulfillment of our academic mission. Unfortunately, this means we cannot simultaneously provide the necessary security oversight for the Sun God Festival,” reads a statement issued by UC San Diego.

I think it definitely came as a surprise for a lot of students,” said second-year student Lena Siering. “But I mean, you have protests all over the nation going on on hundreds of college campuses. It is what it is. We always have next year.”

Siering said she attended the festival last year. She said thousands of students attend. 

Meanwhile, a pro-Palestine encampment continued for a third day outside of Geisel Library. 

Protestors want the school to cut ties with Israel and any companies doing business with Israel, or profiting from the war in Gaza. According to a spokesperson for UC San Diego, things remained peaceful overnight. 

Friday afternoon, there was a press conference from the Council on American Islamic Relations on campus supporting the students’ efforts.

The press conference started at 3 pm and wrapped up around 3:30 featuring Jewish, Christian, and Muslim speakers and students who are calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as well as UCSD’s divestment from any ties with the war in Gaza.

Students on both sides of the protest say UCSD’s cancellation of the yearly SunGod Festival, a highly anticipated campus tradition, was an attempt to divide students in the midst of rising tensions.

Janine is a student at UCSD who led a press conference with CAIR in front of the encampment.

“Students have been steadfast in spite of intimidation here and across the nation, they have continued to stand for Palestine and stand for Gaza,” Janine said confidently into the microphone drawing a cheer from the crowd.

Tessa with The Hillel of San Diego at UCSD is on the opposite end of this protest but agrees that canceling SunGod heightens tensions on what was a safe campus.

“This huge tradition is being canceled and people are commenting on social media saying ‘Now we’re going to protest harder,’” Tessa shared.

“I’ve been – not hiding who I am – but I feel like I can’t be outright about it,” Tessa added.

Mahkaila is a freshman at UCSD from Stockton, California. She said she doesn’t really have an opinion to share about the war in Gaza but feels that the cancellation of SunGod was an attempt by the University to punish students.

“It’s crazy because what does that have to do with anything since it’s a tradition, why can’t we still do it?” Mahkaila said.

The protest at UCSD has been peaceful.

As the encampment enters its third day on campus, protestors point to other student-led protests on UCSD’s campus like the 1980s anti-apartheid movement that changed the course of history as UCSD was the largest university divestment in the country.

Rachel is a Jewish student at UCSD who is protesting the war in Gaza by camping out in the encampment.

“We are calling for them to not use our tuition dollars, which we are paying a lot of money to this institution to not fund this genocide,” Rachel shared.

Rachel adds, that canceling Sun God only bolsters the protesters’ fight for what they believe is right.

“It’s not because of us that they’re canceling it. It’s an attempt to divide the student body and an attempt to defame our movement,” Rachel concluded.

Jewish faculty and students at UCSD plan to join protesting students in the encampment for a Shabbat Dinner and Celebration, a traditional Friday night meal in Jewish households at 7 p.m. outside of the encampment. Organizers say the Shabbat Celebration at the encampment is a show of solidarity to protest the war in Gaza.

Read the full article here.