As we begin our first full week of school, I would like to pass along the following words of wisdom: There are mutant ghosts in Isla Vista.

Last April, on Friday the 13th, UCSB students were shocked by the news that I.V.’s infamous albino raccoon had been killed by Cody, a local dog. Why, then, have students continued to spot a familiar figure that looks suspiciously like a baby polar bear? I suppose the answer could be that there is actually a baby polar bear in I.V., but that’s just silliness and this is a serious column. Obviously, believing in ghost raccoons is the more sensible conclusion.

Has our pigment-lacking friend really returned from the great beyond – or was he never really dead at all? The April 16 Nexus article on Albi’s death included photos of his body, but these could easily have been faked. I may be risking my job as a columnist by saying this, but as a serious investigator of supernatural woodland creatures, I feel I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention the possibility. But why would the campus paper want us to believe he was gone? Could Great White’s alleged death really be a cover-up for something far more sinister?

Like all journalists of integrity, I turned to Facebook for the answer. A simple search of the words “albino raccoon” reveals seven groups dedicated to our pink-eyed pal, and almost all of them include accounts of recent sightings. One group, “The Albino Raccoon is STILL ALIVE!” is dedicated specifically to post-mortem encounters. Wall posts on the group, “RIP Great White: An Albino I.V. Legend”, place the allegedly dead raccoon on Trigo as recently as July 30.

One thing’s for sure: The albino raccoon has captured our hearts and imaginations. I think this is because UCSB students really relate to Albi, and not just because most of them are also white. Rather, it’s because Great White’s story is our story, regardless of race, creed, gender or species. He represents each and every one of us. Think about it: Experts say only one albino raccoon in 750,000 ever reaches maturity. Statistically speaking, the chances that students stop giggling every time they hear the words “breast” or “penis” are probably about the same. Yet Albi was able to become a full-grown raccoon, giving us hope that we, too, may someday live our lives without guffawing at parts of the human anatomy.

Additionally, the reason why albino raccoons rarely make it to maturity is that their bright coloring provides no natural defense against predators. They stand out dangerously, making them an easy target for other animals. Think back to freshman year, or if you’re actually a freshman, think back to right now. Didn’t you, just like Albi, feel that you stood out, and that everyone could tell you were a freshman just by looking at you? As I said before, you’d probably have to do more than just be really, really white to stand out on the UCSB campus, but I think we can all relate to Albi’s problem and be inspired by his victory over it. It’s actually a metaphor for the way The Freshman You (here represented by the albino raccoon) can overcome all obstacles (in this performance of Unnecessary Metaphor, the role of “all obstacles” will be played by Cody: The Killer Dog).

Some people say that the recent sightings of albino raccoons since Albi’s death mean that there must be more than one. This is obviously completely unrealistic hogwash, but I guess I can entertain the notion. Great White’s story is no less inspiring when considered this way. In fact, the idea that there are other albino raccoons out there – that you may be weird, but that there are other weirdoes out there exactly like you – is extremely comforting. Additionally, the other albino raccoons may be Great White’s progeny, which means that he successfully found a mate. I know that finding a mate is something UCSB students worry about, but Albi’s mutant babies remind us that we, too, can eventually find love.

So this year, if you’re feeling down, I ask you not to look to the heavens, nor to friends or loved ones. Instead, look to the trash cans, the trees, the fences. Look to Great White, the albino I.V. legend. He’s out there. He will show you the way.