As the academic year comes to a close, the Nexus compiled UC Santa Barbara’s most significant news highlights of the year and the coverage that accompanied them.
This year, UCSB navigated its return to in-person instruction, and with it the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation protocols, campuswide testing services and its response to the spread of the winter omicron variant.
Students arrived on campus at the start of Fall Quarter 2021 with a mask mandate, vaccination requirements and a daily COVID-19 screening survey in place. UCSB reported low positivity rates in the first month back, although it trailed other UCs in the number of on-campus tests administered.
However, some students expressed concerns over the effectiveness of the survey, which asked students to self-report any experienced symptoms.
“Every class I attend, there are a handful of students who look extremely ill,” an anonymous student previously said to the Nexus. “They’re coughing with runny noses, and it’s obvious that they lied on their daily screening [survey] or probably didn’t even take the time to fill it out.”
Students also shared their experiences with university-operated quarantine housing for students testing positive for COVID-19, citing struggles with changing their isolation status via the green badge system and accessing meals from the dining commons.
In November, the university closed the Linda Vista testing location, keeping the Loma Pelona site open and moving toward the implementation of a drop-off testing system.
COVID-19 cases surged in January with the emergence of the omicron variant, prompting UCSB to shift to remote instruction for the first month of Winter Quarter 2022 and return to in-person learning midway into the quarter.
“The abrupt decision to resume in-person instruction during the turmoil of midterms week does not give students the time to properly adjust or even much time to receive needed support from professors,” second-year pre-biology major Alex Carlin previously said to the Nexus.
During Spring Quarter, UCSB phased out its masking policy, in line with the relaxation of mask mandates locally and statewide and discontinued the completion of the daily screening survey as a requirement to access campus facilities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of students stepped foot onto campus for the first time this year. For many, that experience was coupled with a struggle to find housing, with over 1,000 students waitlisted for university housing with only a month left before the start of the academic year.
UCSB and its surrounding areas faced a historic housing shortage, producing difficulties for students and local residents. The city of Goleta sued the university in December over the issue, alleging that UCSB breached its contract to cap university enrollment at 25,000 until 2025 and to build more housing to accommodate students.
“We have a housing crisis that is one like we’ve never seen, between the students that are returning, people coming to the area because they want to live and work here and then people not living as densely,” Student Legal Services Advisor Robin Unander previously said to the Nexus.
Student groups UC Santa Barbara 4 Cost of Living Adjustment, Food Not Bombs and members of the United Auto Workers 2865 union protested the crisis in September, calling for university action.
As a temporary, emergency solution, the university partnered with local hotels to accommodate students at a subsidized rate. This housing came with its own slew of issues, according to students who spoke to the Nexus about the lack of access to basic amenities and poor communication from the university regarding the accommodations.
UCSB’s limitations with its housing capacity are extending into the upcoming academic year. On April 1, UCSB’s University & Community Housing Services sent a wave of denials to students who applied to live in university housing, leaving many students in a state of uncertainty regarding their living situation for the 2022-23 academic year.
Of the various on-campus issues at UCSB this year, Munger Hall — a planned 11-story dorm building that would house 4,500 students — drew the most contention, receiving national coverage and criticism over its design.
Architectural consultant Dennis McFadden resigned from the Design Review Committee for Munger Hall on Oct. 24 in protest of the building’s many windowless bedrooms and lack of access to the outside.
“The basic concept of Munger Hall as a place for students to live is unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent and a human being,” McFadden said in the letter.
Public outcry arose following the release of McFadden’s letter, and hundreds of students gathered on campus on Nov. 5 to protest against its construction.
A petition started on Oct. 29 by fourth-year economics and geography double major Tommy Yang to demonstrate opposition to the Munger Hall design amassed over 14,000 signatures.
“The proposed building is an architectural nightmare, entirely out of touch with Isla Vista and the needs of students, and the administration is moving forwards with the project, ignoring all criticism,” Young wrote in the petition description.
In November, the Nexus received photos of a mock-up of the development created in a warehouse, demonstrating empty individual spaces with virtual windows, as discussed in the design. In April, the Nexus uncovered the location of the warehouse holding the mock-up near Santa Ynez Apartments, now furnished and decorated to demonstrate as though students were living there.
The university stood by their design in public statements, and an upcoming town hall discussion on the building is planned for June 1.
Crime and Accidents
Warning: This article contains graphic content relating to sexual assault, murder, shootings, and incidents of death and traumatic injury.
The UCSB and Isla Vista community experienced a variety of crimes and accidents this year. The Nexus compiled a list of incidents reported on.
Sept. 9: Santa Barbara City College Student Peyton McDonald was arrested on four felony charges of sexual assault.
Oct. 4: The UC Santa Barbara Police Department (UCPD) issued two timely warnings on Oct. 4, one for a rape on Sept. 28 and another for a sexual assault on Oct. 2. The Oct. 2 incident took place in campus housing, and the Sept. 28 incident took place in the house of a Greek life organization.
Oct. 12: UCPD issued a timely warning for an aggravated sexual assault that occurred at a campus-affiliated property in Isla Vista on Oct. 9.
Nov. 23: UCPD issued a timely warning for two incidents of stalking on campus property. The report was received by UCPD on Nov. 22, and they arrested the individual at the time of the timely warning.
Nov. 25: A “murder-suicide,” as described by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) occurred at the Best Western Hotel on Calle Real. Authorities responded to a disturbance and found a man and a woman who sustained gunshot wounds, and died after being transported to the hospital.
Jan 10: UCPD found a dead body at Campus Point. The deceased individual was not a UCSB student, according to UCSB spokesperson Shelly Leachman.
Feb. 8: A motorcyclist on Del Playa Drive crashed into a parked car with its hazard lights on. The motorcyclist sustained severe injuries, and none of the three passengers in the parked car were injured.
Feb. 12: A woman died after a car accident at the UCSB Campus Lagoon. The woman was later identified as 33-year-old Ericka Andrews, a resident of San Leandro.
Feb. 15: SBSO arrested fourth-year UCSB student Justin Asinobi for hiding a camera in an Isla Vista residence on the 6500 block of Madrid Road. Asinobi was charged with two misdemeanors — invasion of privacy by secret videotaping and eavesdropping — and released from custody on Feb. 24. The three individuals who found the recording in their bathroom and reported Asinobi to the authorities filed a restraining order against him.
Feb. 18: A shooting occurred at the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive, leaving one man seriously injured. The suspect was not in custody and an investigation led by Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) was ongoing as of Feb. 18. No updates have been released.
Feb. 28: IVFP and UCPD responded to four attempted kidnappings committed by one suspect — Michael Angelo Auclair — on Feb 28. Auclair committed acts of indecent exposure and sexual battery as well as assault with the intent to rape, and was arrested on March 5 following investigation.
March 11: SBSO responded to a robbery at the Isla Vista 7-Eleven. The suspect escaped and an investigation of the incident was opened.
April 1-3: On the weekend of Deltopia — an annual unsanctioned street festival in Isla Vista held on the first weekend of spring quarter — 34 citations and four arrests occurred. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department named the street festival a “multi-casualty event,” meaning that the fire department responded to “multiple medical emergencies including multiple severe traumas.” There was at least one significant injury, in which a young woman fell from a significant height at a party on 6587 Del Playa Drive and sustained life-threatening injuries.
April 4: UCPD arrested fourth-year UCSB student Luke Hamilton at Santa Ynez Apartments, where he resided. Hamilton was arrested on the charge of resisting arrest after he made threatening statements to other Santa Ynez residents.
April 29: A UCSB alumnus — later identified as 25-year-old Chasen Alibrando of Santa Monica — died after falling off a cliff on 6600 Del Playa Drive.
May 5: A collision occurred between a vehicle driven by a UCSB student and a pedestrian outside of Santa Ynez Apartments. The pedestrian hit their head and may have sustained injuries.
May 18: UCPD issued a timely warning for a burglary that occurred at San Nicolas Residence Hall the same day. UCPD is currently investigating the incident.