As a wild-eyed freshman, I was blown away by my first experiences partying in Isla Vista. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one, especially when considering the amount of barf that appeared in the Anacapa bathrooms during those first few months. Yet when I would talk to my cool, older friends about how wild I.V. was, they would always answer by saying that the town had been shut down in recent years. It used to get way more ridiculous, they would tell me, but now it’s getting too regulated.
I’ve since realized that they were mostly voicing the “over it” attitude that is required to play the part of older cool kid, and for the most part, I.V. has always enjoyed itself at the same level of ridiculousness. Yet there currently is a growing movement focusing on restricting Isla Vista’s residents. Drinking at the beach is now banned for the whole summer (and who is really going to repeal that when it comes up for review? Lazy-ass Doreen Farr?). The Social Host Ordinance looks to allow police officers to break up “parties” of five people or more, despite the fact that the majority of Isla Vista households house at least six students. The supreme disconnect between lawmakers and their populace that this most ludicrous of legal tidbits shows is phenomenally astounding.
Now, I definitely support legislation and programs that help curb unsafe drinking. As someone who has had to call ambulances to his house numerous times for people who couldn’t keep their shit together, I would much prefer to not deal with it in the first place. But the biggest issue I take with these laws aimed at restricting student activities is that they are simply not effective. Why? Because they are written without an understanding of how students’ mindsets drive I.V.’s party scene, and thus are guaranteed to be ineffective in curbing unsafe activity.
Proving my point are the current midnight curfews for both noise and alcohol vending enforced in our town. The noise curfew is in place on weekends largely to try and encourage us all to pass out safely in bed and early in the night. If our lawmakers and supervisors wished to keep our drunk asses safe, they’d have us listening to some band on DP or dancing to a DJ in a house until we all passed out. Instead, at the prime hour of midnight, everything in the town gets shut down far before people are ready to call it a night. With a bunch of now-angry and frustrated people flooding the streets, it’s a recipe for fighting and carnage. Just walk the streets at 11:15 and again at 12:15. There’s noticeably more tension.
Along the lines of breaking up parties to send us to bed, the alcohol-vending curfew aimed at limiting students for their safety, also ends up backfiring. Just as our higher-ups don’t seem to realize that students don’t feel like going home at midnight, they also don’t understand that a 12 o’clock booze curfew encourages buying more to drink overall. Look at it this way: If I’m throwing a party, I definitely don’t want to want to run out of Bud Heavy because then people will leave. Although I don’t feel like buying four kegs because I’m poor, I’m going to anyway because I know that: a) from 10:30 to 11:30 the size of the party will likely double and the collective pace of drinking will increase, and b) it’s pretty much impossible to organize a second booze run during that hectic time. Instead of just buying enough beer to get through the 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. rush and possibly passing a hat around to fund a late night shopping trip to fuel the after-party (like most college students), I’ll buy way too much hooch right off the bat to guarantee that I don’t run out. That’s how students react to the law, which is exactly opposite of what the law is attempting to achieve. How does that make sense?
The very point of lawmaking is to construct a comprehensive set of social rules that provide both a deterrent to members of the populace who wish to commit unsafe acts and a legal recourse to penalize those who don’t follow the rules. The overarching goal is thus to keep everyone reasonably safe and happy. So when laws are written concerning us and the problems we create without a full understanding of how the system they are trying to control works, I have a very hard time supporting the process.