The Nexus has compiled profiles of our current elected officials to reflect on their past year in office. Looking back on their campaign platforms, we asked our elected officials to tell us about their successes and shortfalls throughout their terms in office. The term in reviews for the other executives – President, IVP and S.A.G. – can be viewed at dailynexus.com.
After rounding off almost a year’s worth of time in office as External Vice President for Local Affairs, Jeike Meijer reflected on the numerous events, outreach programs and projects that she and her office undertook in the past ten months.
Meijer was quick to note only so much can be done in one year. Oftentimes, Meijer said she found it hard to check every box while also trying to “pass the baton” to the next person taking office.
Meijer noted two specific platforms she ran on last year — establishing an emergency housing grant and expanding parking in I.V. — which both progressed throughout her term but ultimately failed to completely flesh out.
After working with the Isla Vista Tenants Union (IVTU), Meijer constructed an outline for how an emergency housing grant would work but was not able to make it a reality. In the case of expanded parking, something that “basically every EVPLA has run on,” Meijer and her office were unable to resolve the problem — even after speaking with Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who told her there was little that could be done.
“So when I talked to Joan Hartmann about [parking], she was basically saying the answer from county is that there’s no solution,” Meijer said.
Fortunately, other projects saw more success. Meijer’s term was highlighted by a common theme of community outreach and safety, evident by substantial progress in both areas through multiple projects.
In terms of addressing sexual assault, Meijer participated in spearheading new sexual assault and survivor policies as well as bystander intervention trainings.
During Fall Quarter 2018, Meijer began working with Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) to help create a foundation for future events and projects throughout the year. Meijer worked with Associated Students (A.S.) On Campus Senator Zion Solomon and SASA President Emily Montalvo-Telford to provide funding and support for the SASA Survivor Healing events and bystander intervention trainings.
Bystander intervention trainings, which later made their way to the A.S. Senate table as a resolution, was created to assist newly-appointed Interpersonal Violence Investigator Kovena Avila by educating students on “how to report a sexual assault, what the reporting process is, what it looks like and what your rights are,” according to Meijer.
Meijer collaborated with law enforcement in other instances as well, such as working to develop a new police collaborative board, a previous campaign platform. By doing so, the collaborative board, which held its first meeting on May 13, will hopefully function to maintain open and “direct communication” between students and law enforcement, according to Meijer.
Meijer also hosted separate “eating events” with law enforcement during the year to continue fostering a better relationship between students and police. Meijer says the events — “Coffee with a Cop” and “Pizza with Police” — helped to provide students with information regarding road closures and parking restrictions during special events such as Deltopia.
Street lighting, a hot-button topic in I.V., saw significant progress through Meijer and her offices’ combined efforts with the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) and Lobby Corps.
After compiling data collected from a group walk through I.V. Fall Quarter 2018, the I.V. CSD and External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) office released a street lighting report which underscored areas where new lights are required and which current lights are in need of upgrades. Meijer says it will take more than “a couple of weeks” for work to begin, likely dragging the street lighting project through Fall Quarter 2019.
Meijer also collaborated with the Alcohol and Drug Program to provide overdose prevention trainings for students and community members. During the training, Meijer said attendees were instructed on how to properly distribute naloxone, a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose. Although the event took place at a similar time to Deltopia, Meijer said it was actually planned months in advance, at the beginning of Winter Quarter 2019.
Furthermore, Meijer is currently working to equip UCSB’s Community Service Officers with naloxone, as the drug is currently limited to local law enforcement.
Around Halloween of Fall Quarter 2018, “the EVPLA office and IVTU went to every house in I.V. and brought everyone a tote bag,” Meijer said. Within the tote bag, community members received cards which noted road closures, important phone numbers and relevant resources. The cards were written in both Spanish and English.
Before her term ends, Meijer said she has two final events planned as EVPLA: a Beloved Community “common table” and a five-year anniversary of the 2014 shootings.
On May 18, Meijer said community members will have the opportunity to gather at People’s Park for an event sponsored by the Beloved Community Project. The “common table” is similar to a small conference, according to Meijer. She said the “community-bonding” event is strictly about “breaking bread” and mingling with fellow community members.
On May 23, the fifth anniversary of the 2014 I.V. shootings, Meijer hopes to bring back elements from the first anniversary in 2015, when students and community members walked through campus and I.V. and wrote messages on eight different chalkboards in honor of those who lost their lives or were injured.
“Our plan is to get those chalkboards duplicated… we’re going to have flowers and ask entities to donate bouquets,” Meijer said. After walking past Storke Tower and down Pardall Road, attendees will “stop at Remembrance Garden and leave the flowers on each of the six benches.”
As a liaison between the university and the surrounding community, Meijer’s involvement with various organizations and initiatives reflect just how many doors she and her office have their feet in — a vital component of the position of EVPLA.
“I tried my hardest but it was very humbling … hopefully my passion shows in my work and people can tell I was passionate through what I did,” Meijer said.
Christian Ornelas, a third-year environmental studies major currently serving as an off campus senator, will succeed Meijer for the 2019-2020 school year.
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the May 16, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.