All too frequently do I attend parties in Isla Vista where I leave disappointed. Not for the most common reasons – a tapped keg, a shortage of ladies, a persistently obnoxious doorman or an excruciatingly long beer pong line – but more recently for the lack of meaningful and engaging conversation with fellow schoolmates. Rarely, while partying in IV, have I conversed with a stranger on anything more than the song that’s playing or the length of the beer pong line.

Those who know me would say I’m not a quiet person, and certainly not one who’s antisocial. I can only conclude that the lack of available intellectual dialogue isn’t my own creation. I also know we are all college students. Even though some of us don’t attend class in any regular fashion, we are all being immersed in an educational environment, pursuing degrees in various arts and sciences at an academic institution. When exam time comes, most of us at least learn something informative in the slurry that is midterm and finals review. But in this beachside, easygoing, coffee sipping, academically inclined, bong loading, binge drinking sea of college students called Isla Vista, nobody has anything to say?

I don’t seek to condemn anyone in particular for remaining intellectually silent – it seems to be a symptom of our current social situation. We are all strangers to each other, and in this post-modern world of fear or love, we are taught to fear those we do not know, and love those we already do. And in these fearful times, even our most essential connections – like being fellow Gauchos, or co-dwellers of Isla Vista, or even mutual citizens of America – are not enough to encourage us to just automatically assume new people will be good-natured and fun to talk to.

Maybe it was the media that made it unpopular or un-cool to be socially vocal and intelligent at the same time. Maybe it was our generation growing up on genetically enhanced foods and microwave cooking. Maybe it was George W… or maybe it was Osama himself. The point is, there’s a wall of silence between each one of us, and maybe it’s time to take those walls down, specifically at an age and in a setting where it’s fun and important to meet new people.

We were given an extraordinary ability to communicate, gather and possess knowledge – to not use it would be unnatural. If you maintain a “don’t speak unless spoken to” attitude, you deprive yourself of what it is to be innately human. Given all this, I pose to you a lifestyle change where you shade your perception of strangers, or at least fellow Gauchos and Goleta residents, to the “innocent until proven guilty” side of the scale. The world is an interesting place to be right now. We’re at the end of one global era and standing on the precipice of another, and I’m sure we all have equally scintillating and elaborate viewpoints on what’s happening. There’s global warming, an undefeated Patriots heading for their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, an unpopular president, fears of economic recession, ridiculously unstable energy prices, the elongated (but most definitely righteous) writers’ strike, the awesomeness of the most recent Kanye West album and a pivotal presidential election filled with passionate and progressive candidates.

The list for conversation topics is not short, compared to the list of things I normally talk about when I’m around campus or at raging parties, like the loudness of the music or my complete mastery of beer pong. So I ask you, UCSB students: Are you ready to throw some “grown-up” parties, turn the music down and talk to each other? Nobody said we couldn’t talk about the energy crisis over beer pong, unless you’re a fan of the new American Gladiators. Or perhaps you’re a flip cup aficionado with an affinity for the band Dispatch. The point is, I’m sure we can find something to talk about, because going home disappointed on Saturday night shouldn’t revolve around getting laid, but more so meeting provocative people with something to say besides, “Dude, this party sucks.”