On Saturday morning, I dragged my still-slightly-drunk self out of bed and into the living room, where a collection of my roommates, roommates’ boyfriends, and various other friends and guests were assembled around a vast array of coffee, bagels, and lots and lots of water bottles. Aaron — my roommate Sarah’s boyfriend and the man responsible for providing the buffet of hangover cures laid out in my living room — had brought a copy of the Los Angeles Times and right there, on the front page of the California section, was a picture of some of my fellow Isla Vistans poised to party with the requisite beer and skateboard to indicate exactly which of the venerated UCs they attend. Forget the fact that the article and the picture played right into every negative stereotype about I.V. and UCSB, or the fact that it was placed right above a picture of people protesting something important and political at USC — what really got to me was the quote they chose to use from one of our very own I.V. residents.
In the article, a 21-year-old Santa Barbara City College student named Jason is quoted as saying that his house was expecting 20 visitors for the weekend, all of whom were looking forward to seeing girls parade around in skimpy outfits. As someone who proudly showed off what an hour in the Rec Cen every day can do via my own barely-there costumes this weekend, I don’t object to Jason’s point. Halloween brings out the sexy schoolgirl, naughty nurse, and wanton witch in all of us — or at least those of us freezing our adorned little asses off on DP this weekend. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Nor is there anything wrong with the boys who look, but don’t touch. Emphasis on the don’t touch — since unless you are explicitly and specifically invited to, I can guarantee that your friendly ass-grabbing will get you a spiky stiletto or a high-heeled hooker boot where it hurts the most, especially if I’m around.
But I digress. My point is that Jason’s oh-so-profound little pearl of wisdom about I.V.’s Halloween celebration was the only student voice in the entire article. And he’s not even a UCSB student, despite the fact that the article clearly correlates the craziness of Halloween in I.V. with the presence of UCSB students and out-of-town visitors in the area. Essentially, the L.A. Times is — like so many other media outlets often do — making UCSB out to be a party school of epic proportions, albeit one with a few Nobel laureates, without giving UCSB students the chance to really respond. So, on behalf of my fellow Gauchos, here’s what I have to say about the common (mis)conception that Halloween in I.V. is merely one giant debaucherous — and dangerous — example of how UCSB students are party animals and little more.
I’m not going to lie — Halloween in I.V. is one hell of a party. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I take pride in knowing that I go to a school where the students play as hard as they work. Which is why I decided to throw a party in my very own backyard this past Saturday night.
Two beer pong tables, three speakers, four pumpkins, a whole lot of booze money, and about 150 Facebook invitations later, we had ourselves a Halloween party to rival all other Halloween parties. Sure, I was worried — according to the papers, throwing a party on Halloween was tantamount to throwing my door open and inviting in a gang of the most sinister rapists, thieves, and hooligans I.V. and its surrounding areas have to offer. But guess what? We had a party anyway and, in the morning, the only things damaged, destroyed, or lost were my voice, my liver, and my memory of the latter portion of the evening. Our possessions were just fine — despite the fact that we let people use the bathroom in our house all night, leaving them free to wander the hallway and living room as they pleased until we caught them and kicked them back outside. Our guests all made it through the evening safe, sound, and sans alcohol poisoning — despite the consumption, responsible though it was, of plenty of alcohol. And our property was clean and intact — despite the huge crowd of people who descended on our backyard. Sure, you could say we got lucky — and I’m sure we did. You could also say we were incredibly vigilant about who we let in the door, how loud our music was, and what possessions we left out in the open during the party — and I know we did all that.
But, I also think that a large portion of the credit for our relatively problem-free evening goes to the very same UCSB and SBCC students whom the media have largely been portraying as irresponsible, irreverent, and immature. In fact, the vast majority of the people at our party were responsible, respectful, and polite — even when we asked people to stay out of the living room, take their overly inebriated friends home, or even let us cut in the bathroom line. Some people even helped us clean up — wiping down counters and throwing away trash — while the party was still going on. Now, we kept out-of-town guests out of the party, so the revelers in my backyard were a prime example of the UCSB/SBCC population and the UCSB/SBCC population alone. And that makes me think that our party proved that UCSB students not only know how to party well, they also know how to party right, with minimal damage and maximum respect to their hosts and their hosts’ home.
So ultimately, I guess my point is that when it comes to Halloween, UCSB students get such a bad rap — and it’s one that, for the most part, we don’t deserve. Sure, we like to dress up in outrageous costumes, drink ourselves silly, and dance until dawn. But those of us who actually live here generally manage to do that with as much dignity, grace, and respect as any slutty schoolteacher, lusty librarian, or guy in drag could possibly muster. And when it comes to the proud students of the most intelligent party school in the nation — thanks Facebook — that’s a whole lot of dignity, grace, and respect.