If it’s not burning, no one is listening.

After grabbing the 10th spot in the Princeton Review’s Top 10 Party Schools list last year, you’d expect there to be some more respect thrown UCSB’s way in 2008. Tenth again? Wouldn’t chucking our own regulation soccer goal off of a cliff and into the ocean after a NCAA championship bump us up a few spots on the shit list?

I’m sensing some strong East Coast biases in the Princeton pressroom on this one. Come on, the University of New Hampshire at #7? Everyone around here knows an inflatable raft can hold just as much beer as your granddaddy’s slough, with the added benefit of keeping that keg a whole lot colder. It looks to me like UCSB’s ranking may stem more from our pot-smoking activist ways than our rowdy banter of beer pong and beer bongs.

Last year, High Times magazine ranked UCSB 2nd in the nation in terms of marijuana-friendly campuses and the college counterculture. Despite the fact that our school’s National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws chapter is only a few years old, the members’ dedication in promoting the legalization of marijuana carries on the legacy of our politically active university. But could the Princeton Review be following the sleepy stoner stereotype instead of this campus’ historic ability to challenge the system?

Most of you enrolled here with the underlying knowledge that our Gaucho predecessors torched a Bank of America branch back in 1970 in protest of the Vietnam War. If not, then maybe Pirate mentioned it to you between “Arrrs!” outside of S.O.S. By now though, you’ve come to accept the fact that everyone will comment, “Oh, party school,” after you declare your Gaucho allegiances. But what have you done to contribute to the reputation?

Two years ago, I had the indulgent fortune of receiving an unannounced phone call at the Daily Nexus’ confines from Mr. Double Barrel himself, Brooks Firestone. The 3rd district supervisor ranted on for minutes about the top 10 reasons why UCSB students should refrain from setting moldy couches aflame in the condom-strewn streets – all while I silently snickered at the exploding tire joke slowly processing in my head. But I couldn’t overlook the fact that this suit had wasted hours in the attempt to persuade students from committing so-called acts of vandalism with vague threats in the form of a sugar-coated, plastic-wrapped and altogether unreliable list – sound familiar? In case you’re wondering, we never published it.

It’s not just outsiders ruining our campus cred either. University officials have recently begun attempts at stretching the school’s authority into unincorporated Isla Vista. Want your parents to find about the drunk in public citation you got last fall? You might as well start sending your report cards home now. The future looks grim, my friend.

Halloween also happens to fall on a Wednesday this time around the collegiate rotation. While I can’t actually accuse the faculty of having the audacity to plan this academic atrocity, don’t be surprised when the end of October rolls around and you find yourself plagiarizing papers instead of carving pumpkins and packing bowls.

To top it off, the other night, my buddies and I were disturbed from an epic twilight jam session to the sound of a middle-aged bum pounding a wrench against the battered front door. Really now, why are you living in Isla Vista if you’re complaining about noise at midnight? If it’s too loud, you’re too fucking old. Please, don’t let this town become a passing legend, whispered about between 70-year-olds at a rusting Friendship Manor.

After summers spent dodging hunch-backed AARP members on my drive downtown to work, I have come to relish the youthful opportunities that this college town harbors, ones shunned by the creaky members of our collectively blind and deaf society. I’m not losing it without a fight.