University and police officials are bracing themselves for the worst that Isla Vista has to offer: a Halloween that falls on a Friday.
While the uncontrollably large Halloween crowds of the 1980s have been lessened over time, the university is taking no chances. The university is concerned that a weekend Halloween will bring a swarm of partygoers who are not UCSB students. Working closely with the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, the university has developed plans, including upping police presence and distributing fliers, to warn students and others of the potential consequences that accompany an I.V. Halloween.
Fines can range from as little as $100 for several of the more common crimes (open container of alcohol, minor in possession), up to a $1,000 fine for public intoxication. Several crimes carry additional penalties: a BUI (biking under the influence) goes on your DMV record, and a minor in possession is cause for an automatic license suspension.
“Access to alcohol, music and people creates an environment that attracts people who don’t have the students’ best interests in mind,” Associate Dean of Students Carolyn Buford said.
While the number of people attending the Halloween festivities in Isla Vista has always been high, in 1987 crowds surged beyond the ability of the local police force to contain them, with police estimates of the number of revelers topping 50,000 people. That year, there were 1,096 arrests and general anarchy ruled the streets.
For several years the police have adopted a zero tolerance policy when dealing with Isla Vistans and their inclination to get drunk, go crazy and get laid on Halloween. Vested with additional authority over drunken college students on Halloween weekend, police are allowed to confiscate any keg in sight and break up parties they deem out of control. These measures seem to have worked; in 2001 there were only 123 arrests, 113 of which were for drinking in public. By police estimation, the size of the average Halloween crowd is now as low as 15,000.
The university is urging students to try to keep Halloween as much of a local affair as possible. Less than a third of the arrests that typically occur on Halloween are of UCSB students, the rest being visitors from other schools and other parts of the state. Many are concerned that this creates an environment that is unsafe for local UCSB students.
“I’ve seen intoxicated people in I.V. on Halloween,” Buford said. “Many are just waiting to be victimized.”
The university has created fliers describing the penalties for a number of crimes typically occurring on Halloween and distributed them to local landlords so that they can discourage their tenants from housing guests over the weekend. Some I.V. leases explicitly forbid tenants from housing visitors over Halloween weekend. In addition, the fliers explain that Halloween is not a good weekend for visitors and urge that locals strive to keep the festivity a local event. Students who live in the dorms are restricted from having overnight guests for the duration of the weekend.
Buford also explained that the university is trying to make sure that students understand exactly what constitutes sexual misconduct.
“Many people don’t realize that, for instance, ass-grabbing is a form of sexual battery,” Buford said.
When a person is arrested on Halloween in Isla Vista, police make sure to ask what college or town they are from. This information is recorded and passed on to the university. Notices are sent to these other schools’ newspapers – consisting mainly of other UCs and several state colleges – which then publish warnings to their students that Halloween in Isla Vista is not visitor-friendly.
“The bottom line is that we are concerned for the safety of our students,” Buford said.
Police presence will also be drastically increased over Halloween weekend. While the average weekend night in I.V. will see approximately 13 officers on the streets, this particular Halloween there will be approximately 70, up 25 from last Halloween. Most of these officers will be Santa Barbara County sheriffs’ deputies, with the rest being California Highway Patrol officers, local Foot Patrol officers and university police. On every weekend from now until Halloween, an additional number of officers will be present on the streets of I.V.
“We’re planning on having 35 officers, four correctional officers and two jail vans available for every weekend leading up to Halloween,” IVFP Corporal Mitch Molitor said.
County jail personnel will be on hand to more easily haul offending drunks off to jail for the night. Twenty mounted units, street barricades and sobriety checkpoints will also be maintained by the police to keep order. Information on the locations of these barricades and checkpoints will be published and distributed to students in early October.
A festival ordinance will also be in effect that restricts any live or recorded music that can be heard from the street.
The university and the I.V. Recreation and Park District are planning events throughout I.V. to provide revelers with alternate options to the Del Playa Drive scene. I.V. Theater will host a midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for those more interested in cross-dressing than alcohol. Another festival will take place in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park, where activities such as face painting, apple bobbing and a costume contest will take place.
Richard Jenkins, UCSB’s adviser to campus organizations, holds little hope that these events will deter a large number of students from engaging in more traditional I.V. Halloween events.
“We’d like to compete with DP, but it’s just not going to happen,” he said.