Next year, the UC system will experience $1 billion cuts to a budget that is already a shadow of what it once was. Just under one year ago, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to pass the Social Host Ordinance, but only a few affected Isla Vista student residents were in attendance. More recently the county decided, with little student consultation, to spend tens of thousands of dollars of its limited resources to prohibit beach access during what would have potentially been Floatopia. Despite some valiant reactive efforts from affected communities, our campus maintains a climate where instances of hate can occur and remain improperly addressed. All the while, crucial student services, such as Student Mental Health Services, are losing funding, often to the point of being cut altogether. These are just a few issues that affect Isla Vista and our collective campus community.
What first must be recognized is none of these issues can be fully and effectively addressed by a single student or group — even a single community. These issues require the cooperative collaboration of stakeholders across the campus, in addition to the support and energy of students who may not be directly affected. While some may consider these students to be apathetic, the Open People’s Party (OPP) believes those who are not involved in fighting the issues affecting our campus have been simply overlooked. Over 85 percent of our students are involved in something other than going to class, twice the national average of universities across the country.
Student apathy can often be explained beyond students not caring about these issues. Either a) students are simply unaware of their ability to make a difference, b) with an increased pressure to take on extra units and find employment to mitigate the rising cost of tuition, students feel they simply do not have time to get involved and take action and/or c) students feel that because the issue does not directly affect their everyday lives, the issue does not warrant their attention.
To overcome these hurdles, OPP candidates will take steps to inform every facet of the student body about these issues and the relevant organizations working toward tangible solutions. OPP’s executive and legislative slate consists of a rich diversity of students, from those heavily involved in Associated Students and other campus groups, to students who have never before had a realistic opportunity to become involved. Our slate has also been chosen based on our candidates’ ability to collaborate, both within and beyond our own ranks. By using our vast personal networks and modes of mass communication (including social networking mediums), we will ensure our campus is well-informed.
But being informed isn’t enough. Many students must be pragmatic when faced with the difficult choice of either: Get a part-time job to make end’s meet, take on extra units to graduate earlier or get involved and take action. We believe there is room for a creative solution. Our candidates will work toward designing a program to award academic units to those whose hard work extends beyond the classroom. This will not require any funds (which our campus doesn’t have and we as students shouldn’t pay) and will serve to mitigate the ever-present issue of crashing classes.
After student knowledge and personal circumstances allow for increased involvement, we as the student government will encourage every facet of the campus to take on the causes that affect students. Those in all communities must work toward our common goals. Our party is called the Open People’s Party because we are open to everyone and welcome as many ideas and perspectives as possible. Above all, involvement starts with your own personal interest to become informed. When these next two weeks bring a storm of campus enthusiasm, please take the time to read about the candidates and participate in our campus democracy.
Harrison Weber is the presidential candidate for Open People’s Party (OPP).