Commemorating over three years of programming aimed at reducing binge drinking in Isla Vista, students, local residents and businesses gathered in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park on Tuesday to celebrate efforts made by the Safer Isla Vista Project.
The Project, funded by state grants, focuses on alcohol education and offers rewards to students and residents who take anti-binge drinking programs. The event featured informational booths regarding Project components such as Alcohol Community Tools, which are community resources developed to lowering the percentage of alcohol-related incidents. According to Project members, binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a row.
Lisa Gilbert, Santa Barbara County’s Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Prevention coordinator, said the Project stands out from other alcohol prevention programs because it focuses on one specific community.
“This is really a unique program because instead of trying to change individuals, this project aims to change the environment of the area,” Gilbert said. “We are trying to re-imagine a safer, healthier Isla Vista.”
According to the 2006 California Healthy Kids Survey, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 77 percent of UCSB students reported having at least one drink in the previous four weeks. In addition, 10 percent reported driving after having too much to drink during the previous semester.
Rachael Wright, a fourth-year English major and A.C.T. desk attendant, said she participates in the Project to try and reduce those statistics.
“Our goal is promoting tools in the community to prevent binge drinking,” she said. “[The program] is directed at the freshmen especially. It’s their first time away from home, so no one is telling them what they can and can’t do. We try to show them they can have fun without binge drinking.”
In addition to targeting first-year students, A.C.T. is in place to educate older students who live in I.V. about the negative effects of binge drinking.
Gilbert said one of the main components of the project is the Resident Host Training Program, which educates I.V. residents about possible violations of their leases due to drinking, local laws and ordinances and also the effects of each drink on the body.
“We are trying to teach them about the myriad of negative consequences,” Gilbert said.
According to Gilbert, most I.V. property managers receive notices from the I.V. Foot Patrol when their tenants are violating lease agreements involving alcohol and noise ordinances.
The project also collaborates with the I.V. Teen Center, which offers after-school programs and works with local families who feel the amount of student drinking has made the neighborhood unsafe.
I.V. Teen Center Program Coordinator Brian Ponce said his organization has advocated creating a safer community for families.
“We’re co-sponsors of the event,” Ponce said. “We’re here to inform everyone about what we do. We’re trying to serve as role models and mentors. This event is targeted at the community of I.V. to raise awareness about permanent residents.”
Second-year English major and Alcohol and Drug Program booth volunteer Kara Ribley said students are the main target of the program and many of them are also working to educate their peers.
“We’re out here to be the student face of the program,” Ribley said. “Yeah, we offer the same advice as counselors at Student Health, but we’re also students who live in I.V. We do the same things as everyone else.”