UC Police Department officers will begin conducting their annual Informational Outreach for this year’s fresh- men, addressing various safety concerns through informational sessions held in residence halls.
UCPD has hosted these guidance programs in UCSB residence halls for at least 15 years, sending specially- designated officers to meet with students, university staff, resident directors and resident assistants. During presentations, UCPD personnel inform first-years about campus safety programs such as Campus Security Officer escorts, self-defense classes, counseling, outreach program phone numbers, alcohol prevention programs and other resources to ensure students’ safety in Isla Vista.
According to UCPD Sergeant Rob Romero, 95 per- cent of all crime that occurs in Isla Vista is alcohol or drug-related, and there have already been more than 12 calls for emergency services sent to Isla Vista and UCSB communities this quarter that were responding to alcohol or drug-related incidents.
Oftentimes freshmen end up in such dangerous situations because they engage in risky social behaviors as soon as they step on campus, Romero said.
“What we are trying to do is minimize situations that happen especially with incoming freshmen who want to experience everything right away,” Romero said. “What happens is [students] get involved with drug or alcohol- related incidents and then [they] have to go to the hospital or to jail because of it.”
He added that freshmen are especially vulnerable to alcohol and drug-related dangers since they are barely stepping into the first stages of adulthood.
“They are away from home for the first time and they’re considered adults here,” Romero said. “What we want is for them to have a great experience, to be responsible and to know that they now have a responsibility to the community.”
According to Romero, other useful safety tips include locking all doors and windows and labeling all valuable possessions, such as cameras and laptops, with contact information. Romero also encouraged freshmen to register their bikes through the CSO program and report dangerous activities such as fights.
First-year political science major Rochelle Chan said the outreach may seem tedious and insignificant to some students but could provide life-saving insight.
“Even if some people might think things like this and alcohol education are not important, knowing these things will definitely benefit us greatly in the long run,” Chan said.
UCPD does not seek to prevent students from engaging in their usual social behaviors but instead works to increase knowledge of the potential threats that may arise from irresponsible partying, according to Susana Corletto, a first- year environmental studies major.
“It is not necessarily that they are telling us not to drink at all,” Corletto said. “Instead, it is a way for them to tell us how to drink more responsibly [so that] if we do decide to drink, we are aware of the consequences.”
Second-year biology and environmental studies major Katherine Abbot said the informational sessions will also guide freshmen who are not as familiar with the routine weekend happenings of Isla Vista.
“When you live in the dorms, the worst thing that can happen to you is getting written up,” Abbot said. “But in I.V., you can definitely get arrested or have other sketchy things happen to you because there are more sketchy people out there and less people like RAs or dorm staff members to protect you.”