Jasmine Nguyen / Daily Nexus

As I sat in my chair waiting for Gaucho FYI to begin its two-hour program, I couldn’t help but overhear the boy sitting next to me as he leaned over to his friend to say, “This would be so much better if we were high.”

Gaucho FYI is a UCSB-mandated program that attempts to prevent dangerous behaviors in students while they are attending what Barstool Sports says is the No. 20 top party school in America (give it a couple weeks and we’ll show them, right Gauchos?). Although it’s not surprising that students are opposed to this lecture-like program, it is surprising how much Gaucho FYI seems to be working counterproductively on the audience it is looking to target most heavily. 

A large variety of students make their rounds of Isla Vista on Friday nights, but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume the anti-rape rhetoric of Gaucho FYI is targeting one specific type of person (I’m looking at you, dudes). These are the same people that don’t take Gaucho FYI seriously and, instead of learning, choose to skip through the online modules and pre-game the program. I’m not saying every boy (or person for that matter) that falls asleep a little during the lecture poses a threat to our Isla Vista community, but as someone that cares deeply about the #MeToo movement and the fight for justice for sexual assault survivors, I am concerned, to say the least.

The program itself is great in theory. Gaucho FYI is the exact sort of thing that college communities across the world should be championing. It highlights the dangers that present themselves so abundantly to students and even provides helpful advice to new students in handling this newfound Temptation Island commonly known as Isla Vista.

Gaucho FYI is definitely a step up from the sugar-coated, blissfully ignorant physical education videos we were forced to watch freshman year of high school. Instead of skipping around problems, it addresses them head-on to try to end the stigma. Yet somehow, despite its intention, it falls short. 

Although it is the responsibility of each individual to pay attention and take away information from the program, I can’t entirely blame students for not caring. This program was not designed with its new college student audience in mind.

Endless questionnaires and corny scripts take up at least 45 minutes of your day per module if you choose to legitimately read the information presented to you (although I don’t personally know a lot of people who did). I deeply care about the issues presented and still found it mind-numbingly boring. I can’t imagine that many others had better reactions.

Will the information these boys gained between taking shots of Fireball help them prevent acts of sexual violence or assault in their own community? Probably not. Does this mean we should cancel the Gaucho FYI program? Absolutely not. 

If you didn’t resort to sleeping through the videos, you would find obvious examples of racism/sexism/harassment that allow even the most daft viewer to see that what happened was wrong. The modules’ oversimplified scenarios not only miss out on accurately representing the situations we would actually potentially face but also make the concepts presented feel simpler than they actually are. This oversimplification in the modules gave those same boys I had overheard at the program the confidence to believe they didn’t need to pay attention. It also allows viewers to believe they perfectly understood where the line is drawn. 

It’s easy to see where the line is when it’s so obviously displayed for you in modules, but that doesn’t mean it is respected in real life. The simplified messages of Gaucho FYI seem to be instilling a faulty sense of confidence in the very people it was hoping to grab the attention of. 

I feel fairly confident that girls will be able and willing to help other girls, should the situation arise, simply because they can picture themselves in that same situation. Years of lectures from parents and warnings from the news have prepared girls to defend themselves and each other in the presence of danger. However, the boys who now think they understand the complexity of sexual assault simply because they snored their way through a few modules are the people I’m concerned about. They did not grow up being prepped to avoid dangerous situations, and Gaucho FYI is not giving them the tools to see the female perspective any clearer than before.

Will the information these boys gained between taking shots of Fireball help them prevent acts of sexual violence or assault in their own community? Probably not. Does this mean we should cancel the Gaucho FYI program? Absolutely not. 

Although the perfect formula for grabbing students’ attention may not have been created yet, Gaucho FYI has the right idea in mind. The more we can talk about sexual assault prevention in the school curriculum, the better. However, it’s imperative we find a way to present this information in a more engaging way. 

Catie J. Parker wants students to think twice before taking that shot while walking into Gaucho FYI.


Catie J. Parker
Catie J. Parker is an opinion staff writer. Catie's hobbies include dancing, listening to music, and petting every dog she sees.