As a student here at UCSB, I am writing to clear up some of the stigma that we as students are forced to tolerate. Since a great deal of us students currently reside in Isla Vista, whenever something goes wrong, the finger gets directly pointed at us. I.V. has degenerated into a poster-, trash- and graffiti-ridden town that is getting more and more dangerous to live in. Simply take into account the instances of rape, sexual assault and theft that we students are forced to endure as part of our “college lifestyle.”
Individuals that do not reside here commit an overwhelming majority of the serious crimes in I.V. Just because we’re students doesn’t mean that our small community should go overlooked. If this were occurring anywhere else – say, for example, an average middle-class suburban community – people would be pushing to get something done. Why aren’t our school officials stepping in to ensure that their students have a safe environment to live in?
Most people share the opinion that a trashed neighborhood with graffiti is an open door to criminals. It’s basically saying, “We’re here, we’re easy and we don’t care.” I believe there are two things to blame: Gail Marshall and our own indifference. Many of you may question my implication of negligence on the part of Gail Marshall; however, please allow me to explain. Unbeknownst to most, an ordinance does exist that prohibits the display of the brightly-colored posters that have become I.V.’s trademark. Gail Marshall’s office merely refuses to put in the time and manpower required to enforce it. Likewise, those in office have chosen to blatantly ignore the graffiti problem that our community has grown so accustomed to. I shudder to imagine what I.V. would look like if it weren’t for the diligent volunteers that are out there every weekend, working not to retain a political office but to beautify the community that they love.
Yet, the sad fact is many of them are prepared to give up due to the lack of support they are receiving from our political leaders. We know what the conditions are like where we live and now, at the last minute, Gail Marshall is sending out a few community liaisons to patch up a few of the problems.
I say that it’s too little too late. Does Marshall live here? No. I am also willing to bet that she has a safe, clean neighborhood to return home to at night. All that I am asking for is the same neighborhood quality that those in office afford themselves. Though I can’t tell you how to vote on November 5, I can ask you to at least get active and vote. The longer we remain indifferent, the worse our community is going to get.
Amy Giles is a junior art history major.