Before going out to party in Isla Vista there are certain things to know.
1) Not every party is an open-door party — some people, shockingly enough, do not want hordes of random intruders coming in, drinking their alcohol and ruining their bathrooms. If you got the address from someone who says “It’s a friend of a friend’s house, it’ll be chill.” Chances are it will, in fact, not be chill… Quite the opposite: It will most likely be unchill.
2) If it is an open-door party, you probably do not want to be there. That is, unless you love cheap, dirty alcohol, random people getting uncomfortably close to you and having to squeeze your way both in and out of said party. Make friends and go to their parties, instead.
3) If, however, you do decide to go to an open door party, DRINK BEFORE! From first-hand experience, I can vouch that not everyone who offers you a swig from a handle or a shot is your friend. I got roofied and I can tell you it sucks. Drink at your place first and then roll out with a close, committed group of friends who are not gonna ditch you if something does go down. Safety first, then teamwork.
4) Walk in groups. This goes equally for guys and girls. People do get attacked and that’s a reality, but the chances of it happening in a group or even in a pair is significantly lower than if you walk alone. Leave with the people you came with — don’t leave stragglers.
Moving into the dorms? Let me lay some knowledge on you.
1) Dorms are awesome! Except for the whole nasty bathroom, doing your own laundry, sharing a room, not being able to drink or have lava lamps in your room, being subject to constant social interaction and freaking out about whether or not you can survive another day in your tiny triple. All that aside, dorm life really is an awesome experience that you will miss the second you move out, so try to get past all the complaining that it’s not as nice as home.
2) If you are going to drink or smoke in the dorms, as a lot of people do, just be smart about it. The music is what gets you caught, every time. That is, unless the whole hall smells like weed or someone is trying to channel Lil Jon and yells “Shots!” every two seconds. Cut the music and cut the crowd, you should be fine.
3) RAs are just kids, too. Chances are they understand where you’re coming from. So become a friend of theirs and they’ll be a friend of yours.
Before you go and join every club that offers you a free t-shirt or surf lesson, here are a few tips:
1) There is probably no other time in your life where you will have such a chance to reinvent/discover who you are outside of friends, clubs, relationships, family, etc. Moving in to college is exciting because it’s so stimulating and there are so many things to do, but consider taking a quarter to enjoy having free time before you go and conquer the world — don’t overcommit!
2) It’s hard to make a variety of friends if you give all your time to one group at the very beginning of your college career. You will be living in the dorms which is an automatic friend-making machine in itself, so take advantage of that before you go and try to make too many friends in other places — you’re only in the dorms once, but the rest of the clubs will always be there.
3) After you have a second to breathe and get settled, check out a few things and ease your way into what works. Pretty self-explanatory, this one … It’s all about relaxing and seeing what makes you happy.
4) Don’t let anybody haze you. Everyone says “we’re not a hazing group” and then you join and find yourself half-naked, blindfolded and drinking water out of a toilet at three in the morning. You’re better than that and anybody who wants to put you through something that you don’t enjoy before being your friend is not your friend. There are better things to be doing with your time and better groups to be running with.
Combine thousands of intelligent, resourceful, mostly young people from all corners and edges of the social spectrum, and you’ll get an environment where revolutionary ideas and political discussions catch fire. Here’s what you need to know about politics on campus:
1) Think Associated Students is all about poster-making after a giant popularity contest? All I can say is: Student government mirrors the general workings of the American political system fairly closely. There’s a place for honest politicians, and also for those looking to do the minimum required to fill out a graduate or law school résumé. Fortunately, the variety of elected and appointed positions means driven, intelligent students have a good chance of finding some official place in the system.
2) If you spew bullshit, it will be found out. I mentioned our prowess as a research university, and your astute peers can and often will eviscerate politician-speak or platitudes as soon as they come out. Say what you mean and say it directly when having a real discussion.
3) As with many institutes of higher education, the campus political climate is generally liberal, and certain ideas flow freely and unchallenged during conversation. Don’t be afraid to be that dissenter, especially if you’ve got the facts and argumentation to back your viewpoint up.
If you’re doing it right, college life presents a variety of enormous challenges. Here are some resources to help you make it through relatively sane:
1) CAPS Counseling Center: Just last year, students voted to increase CAPS lock-in fee to over $20 a quarter, and for good reason. Located in a quaint pink cluster of buildings at the heart of campus, CAPS offers services for students who would like to talk to adult psychologists, student peers or need outreach to help their friends and colleagues. There will likely come a time here when you are faced with life dilemmas too serious or personal to mend by consulting other college students, and CAPS professionals are well-trained resources that students should not hesitate to visit.
2) The Student Resource Building: A large complex containing resource centers for a variety of cultural, non-traditional, ethnic and gender-related communities as well as study areas, tutoring and presentation rooms. It’s a great place to hang out without the cloying smells of Panda Express and Subway permeating the University Center, and it’s the hub of some of the most active student groups on campus.
3) Campus Learning Assistance Centers (CLAS): Who needs help with those weeder science classes, where an A is only for the best 10%? Who wants (or seriously needs) to tighten up some key academic skills like writing and studying? Basically everyone should take advantage of our free tutoring service, and CLAS is pretty mandatory if you’re a science or econ major. Go to their website and sign up for upcoming sessions immediately. Like the first week of class.
4) If you just need a community or other person to relate to that comes from a similar socio-economic background, or can understand particular experiences integral to your identity, UCSB has a wide variety of student organizations that can connect you to supportive peers. The Multi-Cultural Center not only hosts great eye-opening presentations on a number of social issues, but also maintains safe spaces for students of color, LGBTQIA and international students. If you have a concern, chances are other students will share it and be able to empathize.
Emile Nelson and Suzanne Becker are Opinion Co-Editors.