Sunday, July 15 , 2018, 11:21 pm | Fair 67º


Letter to the Editor: UCSB Needs to Grow Backbone When It Comes to Alcohol

UCSB’s reputation as a party school extends back, literally, to the campus inauguration in 1958. As a student during the 1960s, I experienced my share of partying in Isla Vista. I am now a 30-year resident and a retired substance abuse counselor. Today my alma mater is consistently recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the top party schools in the United States — No. 3 in 2015.

UCSB/IV’s alcohol-fueled mega-parties are legendary and attract national news. In 2014, tens of thousands of partiers went out of control at Deltopia, two blocks from my home, leading to numerous arrests and the injury of law enforcement officers. This year, arrests were down but my mailbox was ripped off its post and a neighbor’s home was invaded by a drunken reveler.

Overconsumption of alcohol and drugs are well-known problems at UCSB, which employs counselors and medical personnel to staff two centers — one on campus and the other at Embarcadero Hall in IV. Every Friday and Saturday night, Isla Vista Foot Patrol and UCSB Police struggle to combat alcohol-drenched parties. The reality is Deltopia fires up like clockwork every weekend and extends into the early hours of the morning. Sheriff’s officers are universally frustrated with UCSB’s unwillingness to put some backbone into the penalty for violation of laws prohibiting public drunkenness and underage consumption of alcohol.

Why is this campus expending hundreds of thousands of dollars counseling drunk students? Two-thirds of UCSB students are underage. That means two-thirds of students availing themselves of counseling are actually breaking the law. How hard would it be to inform a student arrested for public drunkenness or underage drinking that “you will take a quarter off, return home, undertake counseling on your parent’s dime, and return with a letter from your doctor?” One more chance after that and you are out. UCSB can save thousands in counseling dollars and, at the same time, put a fork in the party problem that causes injury both to students and the university’s reputation.

This action requires leadership. That leadership must understand the gravity of what is happening in Isla Vista. Building $70,000 fences to contain drunks and spending untold thousands on counseling drunken minors are band aid measures that do nothing to resolve the problem. UCSB’s current leader regularly attends the early hours of Halloween weekend and was actually ushered away by police during the 2014 Deltopia riot. In other words, after 20 years of watching this juggernaut, Henry Yang does not comprehend the realities of student life in Isla Vista. For lack of a better term, UCSB’s students “tee pee” the campus every weekend and Yang has no clue what that even means. Needless to say the students love him.

Yang gushes about nobel laureates, UCSB’s popularity and their thousands of applicants. The new city Yang is building adjacent to my home will add rooms for an new underage mob that will troop into IV and get drunk. This embarrassment needs to end before they arrive. UCSB must require incoming freshmen to sign a contract with consequences for underage inebriation. This is basic discipline — the law is already on the books — why would it not apply to the best and brightest daughters and sons of California? If UCSB cannot grow a backbone when it comes to supporting basic law enforcement, then it is time for the Regents of the University of California to give Yang a permanent time out.

Spencer Conway
Isla Vista

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