Recently, the Nexus published articles discussing the Isla Vista Action Group, which we co-chair. Some of the information in these articles was inaccurate. We’d like to clarify the group’s mission and progress.
UCSB is a complex institution, and responsibilities for Isla Vista are scattered across its branches. In November 2003, Chancellor Henry Yang brought together a group of UCSB students, staff and faculty for weekly meetings. We launch ideas into UCSB’s traditional system of consultation and collaboration, where the ideas can be adapted or modified prior to implementation.
Our overarching goal is to improve the living conditions of UCSB students in Isla Vista.
Student representation on the group includes Logan Green, Associated Students external vice-president for local affairs, Matt Andrews, President of the Graduate Students Association, and Emily Ayers, president of Alpha Chi Omega.
There are 20,000 people within a short walk of the UCSB venues. Few communities in the nation have Isla Vista’s gifts of density and facilities.
The I.V. Live series, held Friday nights at Embarcadero Hall, was spearheaded by one of us, Catherine Cole. I.V. Live is a course in the Dramatic Art Dept., wherein teaching assistant Jason Scott acts as impresario for student performance art, and enrolled students produce the material.
The next cultural enhancement planned is regular Friday and Saturday night movies at Isla Vista Theater. The Santa Barbara Film Society and the UCSB Film Studies Dept. are collaborating on a new series, “Magic Lantern Films.” I.V. Theater itself was once a thriving art cinema house known as the Magic Lantern Theater. The Isla Vista Action Group has secured pilot program funding for Spring Quarter.
Our group is also exploring renovation of the I.V. Theater complex itself to endow it with real stages appropriate for the performing arts. Preliminary studies are underway, with a design workshop scheduled for early April.
In addition, our group is also addressing other areas of safety and general welfare in Isla Vista. Although Isla Vista is full of virtues, it also has problems. For instance, the rate of forcible sexual assault in I.V. exceeds that of the county by a factor of four.
Although many factors contribute to problematic conditions in Isla Vista, former Daily Nexus editor in chief Eric Simon wrote in October of 2001, “Most of the crime in I.V. is actually the work of out-of-town visitors who come here for the parties.”
It doesn’t make sense to allow easy parking on campus for random outsiders, who contribute disproportionately to crime in I.V. On the other hand, our student representatives have frequently and forcefully emphasized that UCSB students and their invited guests expect to be able to park on campus at night.
Academic Senate Chair Walter Yuen, another member of our group, has begun an extensive process with the A.S. Legislative Council, the faculty and administrators to devise an effective proposal for weekend night parking to eliminate randoms without causing hardship for our own students, staff and faculty.
In addition, members of our group have established regular monthly meetings with the many county entities that work on Isla Vista, including Santa Barbara County Planning & Development, Santa Barbara County Public Works Dept., Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. We have also been in frequent contact with the senior staff of 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall.
So far, those meetings have led to a new sign on El Colegio Road for Embarcadero Hall and Isla Vista Theater. In the near future, we hope to improve pedestrian connections between campus, the I.V. Theater and Embarcadero Hall, and get good signs that announce evening events at those two venues.
Another member of our group, Dean of Students Yonie Harris, has done a terrific job coordinating with Onolee Zwicke, director of the Isla Vista Alcohol and Other Drug Council, who organized the visit of Jerry Jolly from the State Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
We have conducted or are planning outreach meetings to tenants’ groups, including the Isla Vista Tenants Union, local business owners and operators, and landlords.
We look forward to an Isla Vista that is even more interesting, even more stimulating and even more safe than the one we have now.
Harry Nelson is a professor in the Physics Dept. and Catherine Cole is an associate professor in the Dramatic Art Dept.