First off, I want to say welcome to, or back to, this beautiful campus and community. This is not just a new chapter for all of you, but for UCSB and Isla Vista as a whole. This community has changed dramatically in my four years here. Restaurants have come and gone, there are two banks with actual tellers and not just ATMs, and about 1,000 new pizza places. But that’s just I.V.: it’s always changing.
It’s the ever-shifting nature of Isla Vista that makes us so unique and wonderful to be around, but it is also our biggest weakness. I.V. has an extremely short memory. Things happen here and then we move on as if they never did. I don’t want that to happen. Not anymore.
The final three weeks of my time as a student at UCSB were marred by the tragic events of May 23. As my friends, classmates and I were preparing for finals and graduation; the happiness, stress and anticipation that comes with it all vanished overnight. They were replaced by sadness, pain and confusion. Places I walked by every day to get to class went from familiar and welcoming to strange and distant. I have a heavy heart whenever I walk down Pardall for some food. I hold back tears as I turn onto Seville and pass by the Capri Apartments on my way to get groceries from the Food Co-op. I stare at the candle wax-stained sidewalks where our memorials once lay. It’s been over four months and I.V. has recovered, but not healed.
All of you new Gauchos are entering into a family that is still in mourning and still broken, as we always will be. There is no mending the wounds we were dealt, or erasing the sadness that overcame us. For you new Gauchos, May 23, 2014 is an abstract date, connected to events you know about but ones you didn’t experience. It’s easier for you to see this day from a distance, but for those of us that were here, it isn’t. I will never forget the panicked texts I got while I was at work. I will never find such relief in seeing a friend post on Facebook, because that proves they’re alive. I will never forget the silence that overcame I.V. on May 24, when I walked with my community through the streets of I.V. — a silence that Hannah-Beth Jackson requested to never hear again as we gathered to mourn. I will always remember the love I felt in each hug that I gave and was given in the days and weeks after. I will always feel the unity that I.V. had. I will always accept the challenge given to us by Richard Martinez: Not One More.
That is why I am writing this letter to you. Not one more is a mantra that cannot be forgotten or limited to gun violence. UCSB and Isla Vista need to integrate it into all aspects of life. Not one more member of our community should be senselessly gunned down. Not one more member of our community should be sexually assaulted. Not one more time will UCSB be in the news for anything but our accomplishments.
That’s up to each and every one of you. New and returning. Create the campus and community that reaps greatness. Go out and have fun! Enjoy your time in paradise. But remember to respect one another. Remember that you are not entitled to anything or anyone. We all deserve to be treated as equals. That’s what it means to be a Gaucho.
Isaac Villa graduated from UCSB in 2014
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students