We are writing in response to James Baron’s column “I.V.’s Cesspool Needs Regulation” (Daily Nexus, Nov. 12). Baron’s article ridicules the A.S. Student Lobby’s “Fall Defensive,” claiming that A.S. is simply educating students on how to “thwart law enforcement and get away with illegal activities.”
Baron could not be more wrong. The recent behavior exhibited by the IVFP has completely spiraled out of control. MIP citations and arrests have risen, despite the decreasing number of people participating in the party scene in comparison to past years. For instance, on Halloween weekend there were over 300 arrests, some of which were made because the IVFP was simply looking for people who they thought may commit a crime in order to make the Isla Vista environment “safer.” This is a clear example of the foot patrol’s abuse of power in Isla Vista.
Speaking from the perspective of two victims of IVFP abuse, we both think that A.S.’s “Fall Defensive” program is a great idea. We have already done our part to voice our encounters with the IVFP in hopes of informing others that there is some sloppy work done by our local law enforcement. Students need to be educated about their rights in order to protect themselves before they are approached. When we were cited, even though we were not participating in any illegal activities, and since we did not know our rights or how to voice them to the foot patrol, we ended up victims of the IVFP’s abuse of power.
Most students, ourselves included, would never think that they could fall victim to false accusations. It is unfortunate that we had to undergo such trauma in order to learn our rights for future experiences. A.S. is informing and protecting those students who are clumped in with the stereotypes and preconceived notions that all students are up to no good. Those unlucky few who, like us, are not guilty of what they were cited or arrested for, still have to deal with a misdemeanor record that follows them for the rest of their lives and counters all of the hard work they have put into years of rigorous studying. Not all of us are criminals, and not all of the students that the IVFP bust every weekend deserve punishment. It is understandable that life is not fair, but education can eliminate tension between the foot patrol and students.
It is apparent that UCSB is an excellent, nationally recognized university that demands high performance and regular attendance in order to excel. Illegitimate accusations create hassles and set-backs, which cause innocent students to miss classes and work in order to meet with attorneys, attend court dates and go to AA meetings for something that was falsely charged.
In search of advice for the false charges, we recently spoke to local law enforcement officers and attorneys back in our hometowns, both of which are at least three hours away from UCSB. The officers were familiar with the “unique” ways of the IVFP, and some even referred to them as “Gestapos.” As residents of Isla Vista, we see and experience first-hand how the IVFP operates, and we have personally witnessed them abusing their power. We understand and appreciate that both parents and students desire a safe environment. However, the students and residents feel the direct impact and have a better idea of what is going on in Isla Vista, as opposed to parents and other outsiders who do not even live here.
We both completely support A.S.’s “Fall Defensive” program. It’s about time something is done, and we definitely cannot do it by ourselves.
Mandy McGee is a sophomore psychology major and Karen Merritt is a sophomore film studies major.