After months of refusing to visit the website, I finally decided to give it a look to see for myself what all the fuss was about. After reading some of the editorials and postings on the website, I came across an article written by the website on Jan. 4 titled, “Is There a Problem?” This article addresses the issue of crime and violence at UCSB and its surrounding community. What grabbed my attention was that the article contained a chart that compared UCSB’s statistics directly to those of Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) because of their similar student populations. When I saw this comparison, I laughed and closed the window on my browser because I then realized that this comparison was a waste of my time. BYU is a Mormon school located in Provo, Utah -also known as the middle of nowhere. UIC is a commuter school – enough said. To say that this is a comparison between asymmetrical schools is an understatement.

After closing the window I began to reflect on my time here at UCSB. After a few moments I came to the following conclusion: I love UCSB, I love its surrounding environment and I love my fellow students and professors. I then began to feel sympathy for the proponents of the Dark Side of UCSB for not sharing the same view as myself as well as my fellow Gauchos. Our university is a tropical paradise created by the Regents of the University of California, sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the natural beauties that have been bestowed upon us, we are also blessed with a cultural environment that is reminiscent of a smorgasbord of global societies. We can find the atmosphere of Oktoberfest drinking pitchers at Sam’s on a Thursday afternoon. We can find the atmosphere of Mardi Gras cruising down DP on any Friday night.

This unique culture also finds itself manifested in its students and faculty. My freshman year, I was flabbergasted to see a girl who raised an interesting question in lecture later perform a 30-second kegstand on DP on Friday night. I was bewildered when I realized that the guy, who dunked on my teammate in intramural basketball the night before, had wrecked the curve in my economics class. While our professors exhibit knowledge more than worthy of their doctorates, they are humble and approachable like many of our students. This is an institute of higher learning, but what the proponents of the the Dark Side fail to realize is that many of us leave the nest and take out thousands of dollars worth of loans to not only attain a formal education, but also to partake in an experience that we will cherish for the remainder of our lives. Some of us may come here declaring a major in engineering or biology. However, at this school we also hope to achieve minors in kegstands, bong rips, table dancing and beer pong. For this reason, many people here have turned down schools of better academic acclaim, such as UCLA or Berkeley, in order to get a complete college experience. Unfortunately there are some people that cannot handle these distractions. There are others who cannot find an equilibrium between work and play. For those of you who disagree with this take on the collegiate experience, I hear that UC Davis and Cal Poly are lovely schools. As for the rest of you that are here to enjoy your four- to five-year enlightening experience, big ups to all of you.

In conclusion, I would compare the “dark” aspect of UCSB to the darkness observed in an Alaskan summer. With 22-plus hours of sunlight, there might be an hour and some odd minutes of darkness. So while we bask in the sunlight of a four- to five-year Alaskan summer, be thankful for who we are, where we are and who, as a result of our UCSB experience, we will become. To the Dark Side, send them your sympathy for their inability to enjoy life to the fullest. Gauchos of the world, past, present, and future: unite!

Mark Kachhi is a senior political science major.