Editor, Daily Nexus

I’m writing in response to Henry Sarria’s “Media Smudges I.V.’s Reputation” (Daily Nexus, Nov. 2).

I couldn’t agree more that the media’s coverage of Halloween in Isla Vista is unfairly slanted to the negative, that I.V. in general has become a favorite scapegoat for the local community, and that our neighborhood has come to be known as an appropriate dumping grounds for unwanted behavior, open for use by anybody who can find a place to park. However, I am once again disappointed at the lack of local awareness about both the history, and the present, of the Halloween event. That’s why I wrote the article “The Party Your Parents Warned You About: Halloween in I.V.,” (Independent, Oct.27), and gave the interview that led to a similar article “Local Scholar Debunks Halloween Myth,” (Santa Barbara News Press, Oct. 31), defending the more creative and functional aspects of the event. Had Mr. Sarria read either of these articles, he would know that there was never any Playboy article: It’s an urban legend – one that was aggressively circulated by UCSB students themselves in order to promote their signature event. Now, I’m sure that whoever started this rumor never intended for I.V. to be overtaken by hordes of disrespectful out-of-towners looking to get drunk and laid at any cost (more to the neighborhood and its inhabitants than to themselves). However, we must give credit where credit is due: This is a wholly student-generated and -perpetuated event.

The real question, though, is not who is responsible for making Halloween in I.V. into what it is, but rather who is responsible for making it into what it could be – that is, an outrageously fun, liberating, experimental event that is all about interaction and enjoyment, where everyone can feel free to express themselves without endangering either their own safety or anyone else’s. Although those impulses are present, there is still a good deal that stands in the way.

To offer a personal example, last Saturday night I was randomly assaulted by a young man in a football jersey. I don’t know if he had something against Pebbles Flintstone, or if he was simply looking for someone to victimize after failing to get laid as the lore had promised, but in any case I ended up with a mild concussion and a severe sense of powerlessness. This is the kind of behavior that cannot be tolerated, and the “No Tolerance” message needs to come from YOU, the students, not from law enforcement, the media, the administration or anyone else.

If participants are willing to look out for each other, refusing to victimize each other or to stand by and watch one another get victimized by predators of any stripe, the messages that circulate about Halloween, and I.V. more generally, will start to change. People will no longer hear through the grapevine that I.V. is just a place to get trashed and find an easy lay. Rather, they will hear that it is a rare and precious example of a true community in an age of increasing isolation. And they will hear that Halloween here is a unique example of spontaneous street theatre, but that it ain’t no spectator sport: if they want to play, they had better be prepared to play by the house rules.

Of course, you will have to decide for yourselves what you want Halloween to be. But remember that your words and actions will have repercussions that reach far beyond your short stay here in I.V. Your predecessors wanted an internationally recognized event, so now you’ve got one. What legacy will you leave for your successors?