James Baron, the parent of a former UCSB student, has offered a decidedly moralistic appraisal of the situation in Isla Vista (“I.V.’s Cesspool Needs Regulation,” Daily Nexus, Nov. 12). He asserts that the community is just a “cesspool of drugs, alcohol, noise and violence.” Perhaps, but reading his letter, I was struck by just how little he seems to understand I.V.
Frankly, I’m tired of non-I.V. residents chipping in their two cents about the conduct of the students who live there. I don’t blame them for their views. Anyone who briefly observes the activity on DP on a Friday night, or drives through town listening to 40 Oz. to Freedom on repeat without ever turning on their stereo is likely to see I.V. as a chaotic slum that its foolish residents will find fun – until someone gets hurt. It’s natural for their responsible, almost-parental instincts to kick in and want to prevent the awful consequences of I.V.’s hedonism. But they’re wrong.
It is remarkable to me, as a recently departed UCSB student, just how rare such consequences really are in I.V. Considering the population density, the level of interaction with strangers and the amount of alcohol present in the community, I’d say I.V. is an example of relative success.
To explain, I currently live in the Bay Area next to one of the wealthiest cities in California, and it is admittedly peaceful. That’s because the people who live here never see one another. Reading the police blotter gives you a sense of the phobia and irritability evidenced by this city’s residents when confronted by their neighbors: petty noise complaints, verbal altercations, police involvement virtually anytime there is a knock at the door. We call this behavior civilized.
Meanwhile, in I.V., where stressed-out students live like sardines in dilapidated rental homes and scrounge for beer money, one can observe an open and accepting community where, nightly, hoards of strangers are welcomed into homes with high spirits and good cheer. Yes, there is excessive drinking. Yes, there is public urination. Yes, there is crime. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life. Now, of course students would like to see a reduction in crime, and they don’t like smelling urine on their way to the beach. Notice I’m referring to what the students want because, unlike Mr. Baron, the students actually live there. It’s their community. Most take this responsibility upon themselves by choosing to find a restroom and respecting the property rights of others. Many are even glad to know that the IVFP is around, checking-up and preventing the situation from getting out of hand. But it’s a mixed sentiment.
Any student living in I.V. will tell you that their rights are stepped on constantly. I could cite you 20 personal examples if I had more space in this letter – each student living in I.V. could likely do the same. Though the major offenders are landlords – who only see I.V. residents as monthly rent payments and treat them in kind – the police often show just as little regard for the rights of students and violate them – who will the judge/jury/chief/newspapers/society believe: a police officer, or some punk kid?
This is where the “Fall Defensive” comes in. It is a direct reaction to “Fall Offensive” policies that border on Martial law. You can agree with these policies if you like – that’s fine. But anyone who, like Mr. Baron, chastises students and their associations for seeking to protect their rights and curb police abuse by educating young adults about what they can or cannot demand from those who “protect and serve” them, should consider how they would react if police walked into their backyard patio during a dinner party, demanded identification, confiscated their wine, ticketed them for playing music, and threatened to arrest them after they questioned the officer on the lack of probable cause and announced their intention to involve a lawyer. Why should students be any more accepting of these abuses? They aren’t the children that you pretend they are – certainly not in the eyes of the law.
Tyler Holland is a UCSB alumnus.