Candidates for the Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs met Wednesday to contend why they are best qualified to represent students to the county on issues that include community policing, tenants’ rights and sexual assault prevention.
The election of this year’s EVPLA comes at a turning point in Isla Vista’s political history. The passing of Measure E last November to create a Community Services District (CSD) marked a substantial victory for proponents of self governance following a decades-long movement for better representation for I.V. residents, a development both candidates vowed to capitalize on if elected.
Justice Dumlao, second-year global studies major, is the Isla Vista Party candidate for EVPLA.
Batsheva Stoll, second-year history of public policy major and off-campus senator, is the Campus United candidate for EVPLA.
Delivering opening remarks first, Dumlao said he would work closely with the Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) office to create policies to support survivors of sexual assault as well as create an active community center in I.V. to center the needs of marginalized students.
Stoll said since her freshman year she has worked to cultivate a place for herself both in A.S. and in the county, and she would work to hold representatives accountable and make the concerns of students in I.V. heard by the county officials.
During the forum the two candidates answered both questions prepared prior to the event by the A.S. Elections Board and those anonymously shared from the audience.
Here is a breakdown of the topics discussed in Wednesday’s EVPLA forum:
- SAFETY: Stoll said she is working to create a police collaborative board of law enforcement officers, community members and students who would meet to offer individuals the opportunity to voice their concerns to law enforcement in a formal setting so that issues are “transparent” and people can engage in open dialogues regarding them. Stoll added this board would allow the police to address community concerns directly in a manner that is open to the public. Dumlao said having more training for the police force in I.V. is a crucial part of how they interact with the community and the current trainings are insufficient. He added that C.A.R.E. training, LGBTQ training, a racial-sensitivity training and a religious safety training are all necessary to prepare them to engage with the diverse population in I.V. Dumlao also said he wants to create more of a culture of community policing because Isla Vistans are capable and willing to care for their community and “don’t need an extreme police force every time there is a huge event in Isla Vista” to keep the community safe.
- FIRST PRIORITIES: Stoll said her first priority upon taking office would be to assist students struggling with tenants’ rights by creating an online platform similar to Rate My Professor but with profiles on landlords. On this site, students could discuss in an open forum issues relating to maintenance and legalities. She said she also aims to establish a community court in I.V. at which students could address minor misdemeanors instead of having to go to downtown Santa Barbara to deal with common tickets like minor in possession and drunk in public. Dumlao said his first priority would be to create sexual assault policies that serve the needs of survivors in I.V. and reverse the trend of incidents going unreported by working with the C.A.R.E. office and CSD to “empower survivors to come out and tell their stories and gain support.”
- FAMILIES: Stoll said the best thing to do to help the families living in I.V. is to support the CSD and all its efforts to bring them into the community because, as a representative of students, it’s not her position to support their needs directly. She said she would support the CSD board’s aims to create tenant mediation and translation services specifically designed for these families. Dumlao said the first step to helping I.V. families is to reach out to them to learn more about their needs, followed by further action to create a community culture that “revolves around safety and love.” He said he plans to foster this through mentorship programs and increased resources available to all community members, regardless if they are students, such as a food bank and C.A.R.E. offices.
- PARKING: Dumlao suggested establishing a UCSB shuttle system that would employ student workers and decrease carbon emissions, as well as designating a location outside of I.V. to park cars during Deltopia weekend, free of charge. Stoll said while one of the eight powers of the CSD is to create a parking program, she hopes to address the problem of overcrowded streets in I.V. more immediately by creating parking spots on the streets and developing alternate forms of transportation for students to deter them from bringing cars to I.V.
- HATE CRIMES: Stoll said the best way to address hate crimes is to host open dialogues to break down walls within the community and increase transparency among all communities. Dumlao said there is no way to ensure LGBTQ students don’t experience hate crimes and that verbal violence affects all communities and can lead to physical violence. He said addressing a hate crime incident immediately will increase transparency, and making resources known to victims is important to demonstrate that “we don’t stand for it and that we are willing to talk about it.”
- NOISE ORDINANCE: Dumlao said a 10 p.m. noise ordinance through the weekend would not be a good idea because students need time to relax. He also said that, for many communities that are race-based, loud music and dancing are part of social gatherings. He added that the ordinance could increase tension between students and law enforcement and that there should be an emphasis on increased cooperation between neighbors regarding noise. Stoll said the county’s decision over summer to vote on the 10 p.m. noise ordinance without consulting student opinions is evidence of a “systemic problem” that has existed for decades, in which the county decides on policies for I.V. while students have no voice. She said working with the CSD will ensure that students are consulted by representatives to create continuity on policies that affect I.V. residents.
- COMMUNITY RESOURCES: Stoll said she has discussed various projects with the I.V. Tenants Union (IVTU), including a website to profile landlords and also a mobile application that lists students’ rights as tenants. On the app, students could upload a part of their lease to have an open dialogue and learn how to deal with problems with their landlords. “This is the first time they have probably entered into any kind of legal contract as an adult, and it’s really difficult to understand the legalities. There’s a lot of loopholes. I think landlords take advantage of the fact that students don’t really know what they’re doing,” she said. Dumlao argued that many students don’t have the option to access resources like IVTU amid their studies and jobs, so IVTU staff should go door-to-door to reach those people who are “not privileged enough” to access them on their own time.
- UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS AND FAMILIES: Dumlao said being able to reach out to people who are undocumented to communicate to them their rights, with translation services available, is key because many members of the undocumented community don’t have the time to access the resources available to them. “They’re really just surviving on a day-to-day basis. Our job is to make sure they can thrive wherever they are living,” he said. Stoll said she would support efforts to create a sanctuary county in Santa Barbara because members of the undocumented community should be allowed to live their lives.
- POLICE BRUTALITY: Stoll said the best means of addressing police brutality is to break down barriers between the community and law enforcement. She re-emphasized the importance of creating a police collaborative board. “We need to hold them accountable as people part of our community, but we owe them the benefit of the doubt as well … they are here to keep us safe at the end of the day,” she said. Dumlao again said one way to combat police mistreatment is to hold additional trainings for police officers. “The police do get paid to do their job, and we need to make sure we are giving them the resources to do their job as efficiently as they possibly can,” he said.
In each of their closing remarks, both candidates emphasized their dedication to working alongside the CSD board to create a strong and safe community in I.V.
Stoll said she plans to address each of the issues in the I.V. community one-by-one in the most thorough way possible and will draw on her experience as an off-campus senator and a member of the CSD campaign.
“Knowing our representatives [and] being a part of these community meetings, I feel that I will be the best person to represent student voices in our local government and in our county and make sure Isla Vista stays strong and stays safe and students are aware of their resources and representation,” she said.
Dumlao emphasized that it is extremely important to him to ensure that all I.V. residents are welcomed and safe in I.V. by making sure that the the CSD hears marginalized students’ voices.
“There are many communities in Isla Vista that don’t feel welcome and don’t feel safe all the time,” Dumlao said. “We want to make sure that Isla Vista is a place that we all feel loved.”
Campaigning for A.S. Elections began Sunday and will continue for the next two weeks until voting results are announced on the night of April 27.
Profiles of all 51 A.S. candidates can be found here.