As students gear up for Deltopia weekend, student and local government leaders, UC Santa Barbara administrators and law enforcement agencies have been collaborating to prioritize student safety.
Deltopia, an unsanctioned street party, saw a rise in attendance last year, with an estimated 10,000 people in Isla Vista. Estimated attendance in 2017 and 2016 was approximately 6,000 to 8,000 people and 3,500, respectively.
While arrests decreased last year for the third year in a row, the number of medical transports nearly doubled from 14 to 25.
Kelly Hoover, spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO), said that the department took into consideration the increase in medical transports last year when figuring out staffing assignments for this year.
Hoover declined to say how many officers would be present for security reasons but said the department was working to “strike the perfect balance.”
“We have found that a strong law enforcement presence does help people feel safe and does ensure that it is a crime-deterrent,” she said. “We also understand that we don’t want there to be an excessive amount of deputies and officers there unless they’re needed.”
SBSO also partners with the University of California Police Department (UCPD) to plan patrols.
Lieutenant Matthew Bowman from UCPD said that the department expects the number of UC officers, including officers from other UC campuses, to match those of previous years, but did not specify how many officers would be present.
UCPD officers will be working at on-campus alternative events, organized by the Office of Student Life (OSL), as well.
Katya Armistead, assistant vice chancellor and dean of student life, said it was important to put together alternative events because “students are looking for opportunities to be in community and have some fun.”
“Before 2015 we use to pretty much close the campus saying students could not do anything on campus, but then say we also don’t want them to go into IV and party,” Armistead said in an email.
“Once we started hosting alternative events we saw that not everyone wants to just party in IV.”
Armistead recalled the first time OSL partnered with the Recreation Center to put together a roller skating event, and her surprise at how many students attended.
“I almost cried and was so happy that we had created the event. The same feeling happened for me last year when we [started] Sunfest and students showed up!”
SunFest, nicknamed “A Warm Up for the WarmUp,” is a festival hosted in Storke Plaza from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and was put together for the first time last year.
“Our biggest hope is that students are safe and they have choices,” Armistead added.
Armistead also wrote that many of the alternative events were planned in “close consultation” with students.
Jeike Meijer, who serves as the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) within Associated Students, said her office was particularly focused on education when preparing for Deltopia.
In coordination with the Alcohol and Drug Program, the office put together naloxone trainings for students to learn how to respond to opiod overdoses.
Meijer said her office also partnered with SBSO and UCPD to host a Pizza with the Police event at Woodstock’s Pizza from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday.
On Monday, the EVPLA office will host a town hall at Pardall Center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for community members to debrief Deltopia and discuss any concerns they might have had.
“We basically just tried to fill up this week with as many events as possible in the spirit of education and prevention and providing resources,” Meijer said. This is the first time the EVPLA office has put together a prevention week, she said, and she hopes that the next EVPLA will continue to grow the initiative.
Meijer has also been working with UCIV, a volunteer program to assist students when they’re out and about during Deltopia, to set up the hydration stations in I.V.
Spencer Brandt, board president of the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD), said he appreciates the work the student-led initiative has done.
“I am a big supporter of UCIV. I see the program as a valuable way that students have taken more responsibility over the IV community, and promoted a culture of greater safety during large events,” Brandt wrote in an email.
Brandt himself has volunteered with UCIV in the past, and has “enjoyed seeing the love and appreciation from students when we have handed out water, snacks, and condoms.”
Speaking on Deltopia as a whole, Brandt echoed sentiments by Hoover, Armistead and Meijer that keeping I.V. safe is a community effort.
“Over the past few years, the trend towards fewer arrests and citations that we’ve seen are a testament to the work that students, law enforcement, and the community have done to try to change the culture in IV,” he wrote.
Meijer agreed, attributing the improvements in safety to the sheer number of organizations working together.
“There’s a lot of different people who are making an effort to have Deltopia be safe and have it be local, and have it be like a community event,” she said.
“If it’s safe and it’s local, then everyone who’s there is truly caring about the community because it’s our home. No one wants to make a mess in their own home.”
Sofia Mejias-Pascoe contributed reporting.
Sanya Kamidi serves as an Assistant News Editor and before that was a Social Media Manager. Loves coffee and will find any excuse to miss class for the Nexus.