The UC Santa Barbara Associated Students Senate passed a bill at their Oct. 11 meeting to create a memorial for Isla Vista cliff fall victims alongside the Isla Vista Community Services District and Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees.
Associated Students (A.S.), the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) and the Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Board of Trustees each plan to contribute $5,000 to the project. The bill was passed with the stipulation that A.S. funds will not be appropriated until IVCSD and SBCC contribute the equal funds, since neither organization has formally voted to allocate the money to the memorial.
“This is not the solution to the problem [of cliff safety], but it’s kind of insane that we don’t have anything memorializing these people,” A.S. Off-Campus Senator, Senate First President pro-tempore and second-year computer science major Ephraim Shalunov said.
The memorial will feature the 13 known victims of cliff falls in Isla Vista over the last two decades, including Benjamin Schurmer, an SBCC student who died on Sept. 2 after falling off a 40-foot cliff on the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive.
Shalunov said the location of the memorial will most likely be an I.V. park — site options include Window to the Sea Park and Walter Capps Park, among others. For the specific design of the memorial, Shalunov suggested potentially holding a contest among UCSB students.
“One option is to have a design contest, in terms of the actual final memorial design,” Shalunov said. “We have a lot of talented art students and things like that here at the university, so if we opened up a design contest, we might be able to get a lot of good ideas and then pick something from there.”
During the public forum segment of the Senate meeting, second-year economics major Noelani Henson and first-year communication major Rosemary Henson — both of whom were close friends with Schurmer — suggested that the memorial include a picture of Schurmer to accompany a plaque.
“I was talking to his mom about it two days ago, and she thinks it would be a good idea for his picture to be put up,” Henson said. “I feel like that would definitely have a bigger impact than just a plaque.”
In addition to memorializing the victims of I.V. cliff falls, Shalunov said he hopes the memorial’s presence will also be educational and prevent future deaths.
“Hopefully people who interact with the memorial will also be moved to be safer around the cliffs and that energy will spread,” Shalunov said.
The Senate also passed various additional bills during the meeting, including ones to create a Senate staff, amend the I.V. Community Relations Committee Legal Code and allocate the External Affairs Committee a local policy analyst.
A version of this article appeared on p. __ of the Oct. 19, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.