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The Deltopia Disconnect

This Saturday will mark my last Deltopia as a UCSB student. Previous years have included some of my best memories in college. I love it: Friends come in from out of town and sleep on my couch. We spend the day in the sunshine, by the surf, well-refreshed and all together. It’s hard to imagine being a Gaucho sans Deltopia.

And yet, I’m trying hard to see the university perspective, too. Last year, the Sunday after Deltopia, my girlfriend and I went hiking to Campus Point and came across some paramedics. They were holding a body bag, the first one I had seen in my life. It was a week or so before everyone else heard. A freshman girl from Cal Poly had come to celebrate Deltopia, but tragically fell off an I.V. cliff to her death. This is all the university hears about: damages. Damages to property, to reputations or — in the worst cases — to human beings. They don’t have the memories that strike a balance, and so every year we get a long email from the Chancellor’s Office abhorring Deltopia.

It’s hard for me, though, to accept the safety of a few as reason enough to restrict the freedom of thousands. A staggering majority of Deltopia celebrants are responsible enough. For every idiot we see throwing rocks at the police, we get an uncountable number drinking moderately and relaxing among friends. As we all know, it is extremely likely that rock-throwers are out-of-towners as well. Even most out-of-towners, though, are responsible enough.

I think about it in the way that I think about driving. Some people are dangerous on the road and leave others injured or worse. Sometimes, too, accidents happen with no one to blame. If we forbade driving altogether, lives would be saved. And yet, we don’t want to let bad drivers ruin it for the rest of us. Most of us drive routinely, fully aware that it might mean the end of our lives. But we want to risk our lives on the road, because sometimes living completely without risk is not really living at all. That’s how I feel about Deltopia. Is it possible that I’ll black out and fall off a roof? I guess so. But that’s no less trivial a claim than that it’s possible my brother’s school bus will tip over and explode.

Sometimes, I think this is why students and universities will never see eye-to-eye, not just on Deltopia, but on a wide range of matters. They’re not concerned for the same thing. Let’s give UCSB the benefit of the doubt and assume it really is working for the benefit of the student body first and foremost. Well, the students care for themselves, individuals within the student body. That’s where the disconnect begins. Will someone get arrested at Deltopia this year? Of course. Will someone drink a dangerous amount? No need to ask. Will someone die? Unfortunately, it has happened in the past, and may happen again. Will you or I do those things? Of course we’re going to try our best not to.

I used to think that the annual anti-Deltopia email was just generational warfare, but now I think the university just isn’t talking about the same event I am. If they have memories, it’s not of friends, beers and the beach. It comes from the extreme cases, from police videos or hospital security cameras. They’re not thinking about me, about what I do at Deltopia. They’re probably not thinking about you, either. Instead, they’re thinking about everyone, and that means the newsworthy fringes. I bet I would hate Deltopia too, if my memories involved arrests or hospital visits.

What’s important for the university to remember, though, is that I would also hate driving if it always involved horrible accidents. But it doesn’t, and neither does Deltopia.

Ben Moss wants the university to takes its hands off his friends, his beer and his beach.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 3, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are primarily submitted by students.
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Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB.
Opinions are submitted primarily by students.


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7 Responses to The Deltopia Disconnect

  1. Rose

    April 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Since UCSB is not a law enforcement agency, you are correct that citizens who break the law off-campus are not its responsibility. They are the responsibility of the actual law enforcement authorities (the ones with jails, not emails) My guess is the big-boy cops will undoubtedly be taking that responsibility very seriously in the future. Welcome to adulthood!

  2. V. G.

    April 6, 2014 at 8:14 am

    As you eventually get out into the real world my advice would be to choose your battles wisely. Clearly, you picked a loser to champion. Please don’t dig deeper with the the-cops-caused-the-riot line. The question now isn’t will Deltopia finally be shut down permanently, but rather why was the disorderly disruptive drunk fest not shut down years ago?
    V. G.

  3. Jay

    April 6, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Seems a bit out of touch now given the circumstances, doesn’t it?

  4. There's a Bad Moon on the Rise

    April 6, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I’m a current UCSB student, and I think Mike and Brian are right.
    And I don’t think we should assume that none of the university administrators, faculty, and staff can see your side of Deltopia. I mean, there have been crazy college parties since at least the 1970s. Probably none were as crazy as Deltopia or IV Halloween, but there was still underage drunkenness and some of the other things that are going on tonight. I would not be surprised to find that some of the university administrators and professors went to those parties when they were younger, or had friends who did. After they graduated they realized that there are costs to partying, and massive events like Deltopia just aren’t worth the damage.

  5. Mike

    April 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm


    As a long time SB resident and UCSB alum, I think you epitomize the “me, me, me” generation, and not in a good way.

    This influx of out-of-towners, the parties, the memories you speak so fondly of, well, it is not just about you. It is also about the community, the families who raise kids here and are subject to drunk drivers, loud noise and gang-bangers (both the wanna-be and the real deal). Do you even consider the year round residents who are perpetually reminded of how expensive and destructive these events are? Or about the police who have to handle all the BS from drunken children who are too ignorant to know their limits? Or the paramedics who have to treat alcohol poisoning that you simply accept as “part of the scene”…? Why don’t you spend a week in those shoes and then write an article.

    Since you’re likely too young to understand, I’ll try to explain this in such a way that makes some sense: this event causes so much destructive behavior – it is resented by the community. Why? Because we are the ones cleaning up your mess. Do you not understand that? Its not all about friends and beers at the beach and your narrow view. Since you’ll be graduating and gone and will never have to see the same BS every year, why should you care about the local community? Or, about the general cleanliness of I.V., the water and the parks? Those issues don’t matter do they? Right, I forgot, its all about you and what you want to do when you feel like like doing it.

    Ben, when you get out of the bubble that is IV and into the real world, life is going to teach you some lessons. Among those will be that the world is not here to serve you.


  6. Jenn

    April 4, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Is deltopia sat and sun ?

  7. Brian

    April 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

    The driving analogy might hot be the best one for you to use given that there are many laws in place to mitigate the risk presented by the few dangerous drivers. For example, in order to drive one must pass a certification exam and a driving test. While driving all people in the vehicle must be physically restrained (seatbelts). While operating a vehicle one may not be intoxicated. Every road has clearly visible signs limiting speed. It goes on and on and on.

    So unless you want Deltopia party hosts to need to pass an exam and a practicum before being licensed to throw a party, all partygoers required to be physically restrained while partying, a total prohibition of alcohol, etc. I would not hold up driving as your analogy or example to follow.

    As a UCSB alum who was an undergrad both when Floatopia became so huge it was completely shut down after 2008, and when the party was rebirthed as Deltopia in 2009, I get your point of view. But when I abused the freedom granted to the point that the pH level of the ocean changed, Floatopia got shut down. When you (broad royal as opposed to personal you here) abuse the right to party to the point that balconies are collapsing down cliffs onto innocent bystanders and people are dying, they’re going to start enforcing the laws on the books. Those are consequences, and they generally follow actions (for example if you are driving drunk and kill somebody, you aren’t allowed to drive for a long while after that… to use your own driving analogy)

    On the bright side, all the things you (personal you this time) champion as the best parts of Deltopia, seem to have nothing to do with the event. The weather is great in SB every weekend, so your friends could come visit and have a small, relaxing kickback on the beach literally any weekend of the year. It has nothing to do with Deltopia though.