A task force of administrators, staff and students formed in response to the multiple reports of sexual assault allegations at fraternities in Isla Vista met for the second time on Monday to continue discussions about how to make social events in Isla Vista safer.
The Task Force for Safer Social Events in Isla Vista heard from the Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Jason Stone about recent “risk management practices” implemented at fraternity events and from the Office of Student Life (OSL) about the way the university communicates with students about incidents that occur in I.V.
In an email sent out to students on Oct. 30 that first introduced the task force, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn and Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead wrote that the task force would come up with a series of recommendations to improve safety at social events in I.V. to present to the university by the end of Winter Quarter 2020.
“The Task Force recommendations will focus on registered campus organizations, fraternities and sororities, athletic groups/teams, and other social events in Isla Vista,” the two wrote in the email.
Representatives at Monday’s meeting ranged from the Alcohol and Drug Program, the OSL, the Campus Advocacy, Resources and Education Office, the Title IX office, the UCSB Police Department and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, in addition to students from Students Against Sexual Assault, Intersectional Feminists, the Graduate Student Association, IFC and the Collegiate Panhellenic Council (CPC).
Klawunn began the meeting by reviewing the task force’s first meeting in Fall Quarter 2019, during which the task force determined what exactly it wanted to address in its recommendations to the university.
Stone then presented a series of regulations that the IFC implemented at the beginning of winter quarter on all social events that any IFC fraternity hosts.
The regulations include the addition of sober hosts and sober stations at all IFC social events as well as a ban on hard alcohol.
Sober hosts are designated members of the hosting organization who are required by the IFC to maintain their sobriety throughout an IFC social event and serve as a resource for attendees who run into any problems, Stone said.
The sober hosts are required to wear neon vests, similar to construction workers, so they can easily be identified. The IFC is requiring three sober hosts for the first 50 people at an IFC event, and an additional sober host for every additional 25 people.
“We’ve made clear and we’ve put into place strategies for making those people wholly identifiable,” Stone said.
“That’s also constant across our IFC organizations. So for any guests who may go to multiple events hosted by multiple different organizations, they can identify those people typically in the exact same way,” he added.
Stone said that the IFC had recently purchased breathalyzers and have been dropping in on IFC events to breathalyze the sober hosts to ensure they’re being held accountable. If a sober host is found to have a blood alcohol level higher than 0.00, Stone said the event would be shut down immediately.
In addition to the sober hosts, the IFC is working on setting up sober stations at all events, where attendees can get water, or find a sober host if they need one. The stations will be in a centralized location and easy to find, Stone said.
In addition to the sober hosts and stations required at IFC events, Stone said the council has adopted a policy from its national organization, the North American Interfraternity Council (NIC), that bans hard alcohol at all UCSB IFC events.
Instead, all alcohol at events is single container, CPC President Ally van Dorsten said, which is meant to address the issue of the use of date-rape drugs.
“There’s no alcohol that is not single-container,” van Dorsten said. “So there’s not a lot of opportunity at these events for people to be drugging, because it’s all closed, individual, single-container alcohol that is being served to people of age.”
The task force also discussed how the university communicates with students when incidents occur in I.V. Miles Ashlock, acting associate dean and director of the OSL, said that communication is often dependent on concerns about immediate safety.
Ashlock and others said the university was trying to create a set of templates for emergency communication so that whoever was responsible for sending them out wouldn’t have to make any subjective decisions regarding the message.
As the meeting wrapped up, Ashlock asked the task force members to consider what they want from the university during “critical incidents,” and said the task force’s first steps are to define what they consider to be a “critical incident.”
“I think there’s an opportunity with this task force convened with so many different perspectives to clarify, put down on paper, ‘What are the things that students have an expectation or a want, particularly, to hear about?’” he said.
“And then from that clarification of what consists of critical incidents, also thinking through… the sorts of language, the sorts of communication methods that we use, the length of those communications, the details repeated or not, whether or not students can opt out of those communications,” Ashlock added.
“There’s a lot that we could explore.”
The task force plans to have its next meeting on Friday, Feb. 28, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the Flying A Studios Room in the University Center.