UCSB Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young held an open forum with students, administrators and community leaders yesterday at the Coffee Collaborative to discuss the destruction caused by Deltopia and the future of such events in Isla Vista.
The discussion touched on the role played by recently erected video surveillance posts and “out-of-towners” in Saturday’s “civil unrest,” comparisons between Deltopia and Floatopia and taking steps to regulate future large-scale events. Representatives from Associated Students, the Division of Student Affairs and the Isla Vista Food Co-op were in attendance, although no personnel from any of the law enforcement agencies that responded Saturday night were present.
The meeting, which started as a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), drew a small crowd of students and residents that spilled over onto the sidewalk in the late hours of the afternoon.
When asked how the six surveillance towers contributed to the incidents Saturday night, Young said the idea that the controversy surrounding the camera installations caused the violence was far-fetched.
“I don’t buy this ‘the camera’s caused us to behave that way.’ Please don’t say that …that’s just silly,” Young said. “I don’t think they caused anything … I want a camera when something has happened. When one of my students is assaulted, I want to know who did it.”
Katya Armistead, associate dean of students, said the cameras are not being pointed into bedrooms or private residences, and residents need to have a better understanding of what this surveillance is targeting.
“We should do an educational campaign about what these cameras are really used for, where they are really pointed, how they’ll use footage,” Armistead said. “I know that Alex Moore and Associated Students … has been really concerned about that so I’m definitely going to work closely with him to have him better understand it.”
Another student asked Young how the events on Saturday compare to the Floatopia beach party that began several years ago on Isla Vista beaches and evolved into Deltopia after law enforcement began closing off beach access for the weekend in 2010. Young said the event was detrimental to local beaches and dangerous for those in attendance.
“Floatopia was one of the worst, gratuitous destruction of the environment and disregard for the safety of others … If you looked at the destruction that was left there, it was mind-bending to me,” Young said. “I don’t care if students who are of age have a drink, I don’t care if people engage in intimate relationships as long as everyone is consenting — [that’s] none of my business — but what I do care about is destruction and abuse of people and the environment in the name of fun.”
Young said he does not know how many “outsiders” contributed to the violence that occurred over the weekend, but the fact that there are so many visitors is a major problem for the community.
“It makes me crazy that outsiders come into our midst … come into our homes, destroy our property, assault our citizens, steal from them … overburden our emergency services,” Young said. “My wife has had two ambulance trips in the last four months, I’d be pissed if she couldn’t get an ambulance because they are tied up in here looking for a bunch of people who are here just to cause trouble, get drunk … and think it’s cool to destroy my community … that’s how I feel.”
Young said he benefited from the meeting but emphasized he cannot be sure how the county will respond to the events of Deltopia.
“The truth is I don’t think we know what the possibilities are, what the likelihood is, certainly from what the county does. The county’s going to have its own approach to this,” Young said. “I can tell you is that this meeting is great for me from my standpoint — I got some ideas about some things we might do to mitigate, make for a healthy kind of environment.”
Robert Wickham, a third-year mathematics and CCS literature major, said he thought Deltopia could be more regulated in the future and take on the characteristics of a structured music festival.
“My idea for Halloween would be turn them into festivals sort of like Coachella. I believe we should turn the three big parts on Del Playa into stages,” Wickham said. “We would block off Del Playa in a way where police can easily regulate access where there will only be two streets where you can enter basically Camino Pascadero street and Camino Corto.”
According to Emily Potter, a second-year literature and sociology major, the meeting was helpful because it educated her on what the university can actually do to address the events of the weekend.
“One thing we talked about was starting a conversation with the county because what I learned in this meeting was how little power the actual university administration actually has over helping us set up these events,” Potter said. “It’s up to us to [be] communicating with the county. They are the ones that can give us permission to block off Del Playa.”
-Staff Report. Daniel Slovinsky and Jimmy Chang contributed to this report.
A version of this story occurred in the Monday, April 7, 2014 edition of the Daily Nexus.