There are many words to describe what happened this Deltopia weekend. Crazy, fun, annoying and outrageous, depending on your attitude towards the event, may come to mind, but perhaps most accurate of all is the word disgraceful. It should go without saying I’m not here to chastise people for letting loose with their friends and having fun. If that were the case, I would have to admit I’m as guilty as everyone else. But there is a big difference between chucking a ball at some red cups, and chucking glass bottles at cops. One’s a friendly game of beer pong, and the other is a felony that can land you jail time.
By inviting everyone and their cousin to join our crazy Deltopia festivities, we are, in great part, to blame for what happened this weekend. UCSB and SBCC students, as well as all every other Isla Vistan who invited an out-of-towner to Santa Barbara for the weekend should seriously consider the consequences of their decision. I recognize that many of the problems that went on this weekend are because of these out-of-towners, and countless of them came in uninvited with absolutely no ties to our local community, only looking to crash parties and cause trouble. But, even so, we still have to take responsibility. Advertising our parties to the world and inviting people from out of town, even people we know, is leaving the door wide open for trouble. These out-of-towners are our responsibility, and when it’s our guests who damage the community, who else can we blame but ourselves?
Our campus’s beautiful location, pristine climate and isolation from the rest of the community are all recipes for a prime party environment. Just like at any college, there are bound to be ragers, and sometimes they’re going to get out of control. It’s when people start getting hurt and things get broken that we should realize there are going to be repercussions for having these ragers. That’s what the cops are there for, to quell any disorder and keep it from developing any further. But, because we let this riot happen in the first place, we lost our right to party on Saturday night and, over the next few months, we’ll see that we are going to have to pay for it in the long term as well.
We can complain all we want about IV turning into a so-called “police state,” but as a product of this weekend all we did was justify the law enforcement presence, especially those “Orwellian” security cameras. Occasionally — and sometimes brutally — police overstep their appropriate use of force. This is almost to be expected when police officers are on duty, when lives are potentially on the line and the adrenaline is pumping. When around 10 p.m. on Saturday the police demanded that everyone clear the street, it should have been obvious it would only fire up the crowd, a bunch of drunken, out-of-town college students, to do the exact opposite and party even harder. But, of course, given the very tense nature of their job, the police couldn’t just let that happen, causing them to look like the bad guys to many of the party-goers, thus lighting the spark that started the riots.
This is all coming from someone who lives in the dead center of Del Playa Drive. That night, S.W.A.T. patrol vehicles were racing up and down right in front of my driveway, while behind my backyard glass bottles and flashbangs were being flung through the air. Whenever I stepped outside, I would either immediately start choking on tear gas, or be demanded to return to my house by an armed paramilitary officer. I realized that, by that point, the cops really didn’t have a clue as to who was part of the riot or not, meaning that anyone could present a potential danger.
In some ways, I’m lucky. I’m a senior, so I won’t be living here next year to truly experience the fallout. Deltopia will in all likelihood be cancelled, just as Floatopia was in 2009. But, knowing our school, we’ll probably just come up with some other event in place of it. It’s a vicious cycle, because we want to party, while the cops want to keep order — two goals that will inevitably conflict. Next time, there needs to be a better dialogue between the two groups, with rules clearly outlined beforehand so both the police and the partiers can follow them without any miscommunication. We all deserve some of the blame, so we should all take steps to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
Jay Grafft is excited that he won’t have to deal with the consequences of this Deltopia’s riot.