While many UCSB students may already consider the Francisco Torres Residence Hall an island all of its own, returning residents may be surprised to find their campus housing now has a name to match its reputation.
As of Winter Quarter 2008, the two-tower residence hall located along El Colegio Road was officially renamed Santa Catalina. The individual towers, which house 1,300 students between them, also underwent name changes – the North Tower is now referred to as “Mountain” and the South Tower as “Ocean.”
According to Residence Halls Association President Corey Huber, the process of renaming the towers began in 2003 with the intention of maintaining a consistent Channel Island theme throughout the residence halls. Santa Catalina now serves as the seventh UCSB residence hall to be named after a channel island. Of the eight channel islands, Santa Barbara Island is the only island that has yet to make an appearance as a residence hall’s name.
“The recommendation was given to the chancellor back in December of 2003, and he just began this past December to go through with it,” Huber said.
While the purpose for the name change is not officially known, rumors concerning the residence hall’s past notoriety still floated around campus. Some believed that the name change had to do with a Playboy magazine article referring to FT as a promiscuous residence hall, while others believed the university was attempting to distance itself from former FT resident David Attias who in 2001 crashed his car into five people on Sabado Tarde Road while under the influence of drugs, killing four people.
Huber said he had heard such rumors as well but that, to his knowledge, these alleged reasons were never mentioned by the university.
However, Mountain Tower President Chris Par, an undeclared first year, said simply altering the name of the buildings will not change students’ perceptions of the residence halls or their penchant for screaming profanities while passing the edifice.
“If there was a legit reason why it was changed, then we’ll just have to learn to accept it,” Par said. “Just changing the name isn’t going to change the reputation. People will still call it FT.”
FT Mountain Tower resident assistant Luis Larin, a second-year history major, also said she was reluctant about the name change.
“I think it’s going to take a couple of years for people to get used to it,” Larin said. “It’s not going to change the way everybody calls the building just because they decided to rename it over winter break. Probably when the freshmen here are seniors, they’re still going to refer to what is now officially Santa Catalina as FT.”
Yet, Mountain Tower Resident Director Peter Chu said that once the initial resistance subsides, the change will ultimately unite the previously isolated facility with the rest of the dormitories.
“Out here the residence hall is away from the rest of the campus, and I think that the name changing will make it more uniform with the rest of the residence halls on campus,” Chu said. “It might have a little resistance right now but I think in the future it will be better for us in the long run.”