The Isla Vista Alcohol and Other Drugs Council endorsed parental notification and the recently approved Community Safety Ordinance. Here’s why:

As an Isla Vista community coalition, we are concerned for the safety of students, and the excessive use of alcohol and uncontrolled parties in our community that negatively impact the quality of life for all residents of Isla Vista.

Despite UCSB’s extensive educational efforts to reduce student alcohol abuse, crime rates, injury and high-risk drinking have continued to rise. According to Isla Vista Foot Patrol records, in 2001 in Isla Vista, over 2,400 arrests and criminal citations were issued for alcohol-related crimes: 796 for public intoxication, 1,210 for minor in possession of alcohol and 396 for open container of alcohol in public. Other arrests, also alcohol-related, included 279 physical assaults and 18 rapes.

Research on excessive use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs has shown that education by itself does not work. What does work is a combination of educational efforts along with institutional and public policy changes. Parental notification and the Community Safety Ordinance are two such policy changes.

In 1998, Congress gave its blessing to parental notification by passing a federal law allowing colleges to disclose a student’s alcohol or other drug violations to parents. Many campuses, such as Penn State, University of Delaware, Texas A&M, University of Rhode Island, Virginia Tech and George Washington University, have instituted parental notification and seen significant declines in alcohol violations and/or noted reductions in the rates of recidivism. We too believe parents can make a difference. By involving parents, who have been the primary educators and disciplinarians of students, accountability and responsibility for behavior change is increased. IVFP reports a common statement from students who are arrested for alcohol-related incidents: “You’re not going to tell my parents are you?” Perhaps the very consequence that students fear most will prove the most effective.

The Community Safety Ordinance acts as a preventative measure and provides a cover of protection for the vast majority of UCSB students who party safely or not at all. Other college communities, including Boulder, Colorado and East Lansing, Michigan have adopted ordinances that allow law enforcement officers to declare a party a public nuisance when certain conditions exist. The purpose of such ordinances is to encourage party hosts to maintain control and responsibility over their gatherings, to minimize the attraction of visible kegs to uninvited guests in order to avoid excessively large crowds and to disperse a large party before it becomes out of control and results in additional crimes, injuries and property damage. With this ordinance, the council believes that violence associated with out-of-control parties can be reduced and safety for all I.V. community members can be increased.

Isla Vista AOD Council members include students, Isla Vista residents, property managers, business owners and representatives of law enforcement, educational institutions, community agencies and faith-based organizations. We wish to thank Chancellor Henry Yang, Vice Chancellor Michael Young and Dean of Students Yonie Harris for your courage in taking these important steps. We also want to thank Gail Marshall and the Sheriff’s Dept. as collaborative partners with UCSB in sponsoring the Community Safety ordinance and the Board of Supervisors for approving it.

Michelle Obregon, Casey Hayden and Onolee Zwicke are all members of the Isla Vista Alcohol and Other Drugs Council.