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We are students at UCSB and proud of it. In no way does that mean we are proud of everything that happens in Isla Vista. However, we do accept that what happens in I.V. is a reflection on our university and on us, the students, and we own it, nonetheless. That being said, we are not shocked about the riot that happened this weekend.
We can’t pretend to know exactly why this riot occurred and we’re fairly certain that everyone will have their own opinions about it; all we are attempting to do here is examine certain factors that contributed to the ultimate chaos in I.V. on Saturday night.
It’s ignorant to say that one group of people caused the riots this past weekend. Out-of-towners are an easy scapegoat for everything bad that happens in I.V. because they are not here to defend themselves. We can easily group every one of them into one big antagonistic, selfish and disrespectful group, but in shifting all the blame for this weekend onto “them,” our community loses out on an enormous opportunity to address the major issues affecting each one of us, within our very own boundaries.
One of the major reasons for the tension surrounding this year’s Deltopia was the installation of the surveillance towers around the outskirts of campus, as well as near Embarcadero Hall and I.V. Theatre. While some embraced this new security measure, others were uneasy about their spontaneous appearance; this unease was furthered when six more cameras popped up nowhere near school property, prompting some to liken I.V. to a “police state.”
The biggest issue was the lack of transparency from the Isla Vista Foot Patrol and Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office: we heard that the university had contributed funding to these cameras and yet the cameras were fully in the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office. Then we heard that the cameras were not put up specifically to monitor Deltopia, and yet they would indeed be used to monitor Deltopia. Pictures emerged of these surveillance towers with North Korean flags and “Big Brother is watching” signs hung upon them. The attitude of “us versus them” was clearly in full force. Essentially, the students were left assuming that they were paying for these cameras that would be used to do … what?
This lack of transparency continued in regards to the noise ordinance, which was first brought to students’ attention via a Facebook post. This was a problem because UCSB students have come to expect an official statement from the university if there are going to be extraordinary legal restrictions in place, such as those in place for Halloween. Because neither residents nor students were given clear details on what to expect from law enforcement on Deltopia weekend, the only information initially came from word of mouth. Even when the Daily Nexus published an article outlining the rules that would apply for Deltopia, as defined by an official police source, certain officials called the article an inaccurate source. As a result, contradictions continually emerged regarding the truthfulness and severity of the enforcement of the ordinances, and frustrations flared. Again, residents felt as if they were being neglected by their governing bodies and had no voice within their very own community, leaving people feeling very defensive before the day even began.
As thousands and thousands of people headed towards Del Playa Drive on Saturday, nobody quite knew what to expect. But the residents were damn sure they weren’t going to let anybody ruin Deltopia for them, and the visitors were damn sure they felt the same way. The police officers, though, were damn sure they were not going to see any more deaths this year — these views were bound to conflict in one way or another. The extent to which that happened was entirely inexcusable, but not entirely unforeseeable.
So how can we learn from this Deltopia? If the goal is to ruin a holiday and damage the reputation of every future Gaucho, then we can all look to this weekend as a textbook example. But if the goal is to learn how to successfully enjoy the holidays that we work so hard to earn without destroying half of I.V. and our reputations, then we’re going to have to reexamine how we do things.
A couple of suggestions seem fairly apparent and you’ve probably all heard them already: limit the guest lists, no more bottle-throwing and take it easy on the tear gas and surveillance towers (pretty damn scary and probably doesn’t actually help anybody). What it essentially boils down to is a question of respect. There was no respect shown to the police officers who tried their best to keep us safe, there was no respect shown to our visitors (even the ones who stuck around to clean up) and, as a result, we were not shown the respect that we felt entitled to.
The concept of respect is an intangible one that won’t present a “quick fix” in the way that the idea of a university-sanctioned Deltopia would. But in this case, if our community is trying to change the way it functions and is perceived, then a nice little sanction will not change anything, because they cannot sanction every weekend. If we actually want to enjoy this uniquely beautiful beachside community that we have built, we need to respect ourselves, our friends, our future Gauchos and our authorities, because otherwise this riot is definitely not going to be the last. Frankly, in this case, as in many cases, Aretha says it best: “All I’m askin’ is for a lil’ respect!”
Allyson Campion and Emile Nelson do not want to write any more staff editorials for a long time. PLEASE don’t make them.