Isla Vistans are pinned against a wall. Our beach (for many of us our backyard) has been taken from us and the county has done its best to incite fear and anxiety within Isla Vista residents. We are taught to fear citations, arrests, trips to the “drunk tank,” injury, and pollution on our prided beaches. Yes, I’m talking about the recent denial of beach access during Floatopia 2010, but it prompts a grander issue that must be addressed. Even before this decision, we have been constantly reminded that law enforcement does not trust us, as officers stand glaring on practically every street corner on any typical party night. Pardon me, but is this warranted?
UCSB enjoys endless nationwide recognition. Newsweek Magazine ranked it number 59 out of the “Top 100 Global Universities” in 2006. US News & World Report ranks the school 42nd among universities nationwide and 11th within the public subset. Forbes has also taken notice, placing UCSB as the 14th best public university in the United States for “getting rich,” judging by the average salaries of postgraduates. According to U.S. News, UCSB has the 5th best graduate program in Materials Engineering, the 10th best graduate physics program, and the 4th best program for Condensed Matter Physics.
So, are we really the out-of-control hoodlums with half a brain stem, and no sense of personal responsibility, that the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and I.V. Foot Patrol make us out to be?
If college students are the future leaders of our nation, shouldn’t law enforcement be trying to instill a sense of integrity, trustworthiness, and values in these young people?
We all know there were many negative environmental and public safety issues resulting from last April’s epic rager. But, I feel that closing the entire beach on a sunny Saturday afternoon is unnecessary and flat wrong. I say that as young adults who have every right to study hard and play hard, as students who are amongst the leaders in the nation, we must not live in fear. This April 10, 2010, law enforcement will shut down Isla Vista beaches. However, this year, beach access or no beach access, there will be a Floatopia 2010.
I am not saying that Floatopia is harmless and I am not implying that Santa Barbara County is wrong in taking precaution for Floatopia 2010. In fact, there are many negative consequences to Floatopia. But how big is the scale? We are arguing over urine in the ocean; have you seen a crowded Southern California beach in July? Fine, no alcohol on the beach is understandable, and so is a rule that floaters must take smaller rafts that can be returned safely to shore, but taking away beach access? I don’t think so. Let’s take the oil rigs out of the ocean before we start worrying about human urine excreted over the course of a few hours.
As regards Floatopia, living in Santa Barbara is a sort of liberal Catch 22. On the one hand we live in a culture that is laid back and open minded. On the other hand, Santa Barbara residents exude leadership in environmentalism, including the maintenance of picturesque beaches, making Floatopia a preposterous day of pollution in the minds of many. To Isla Vista residents, Floatopia is an annual tradition bringing the community together for a day of fun in the sun.
True, Floatopia is no longer sacred only to Isla Vista; it is now a nationwide phenomenon. I feel this is one of the main reasons that Floatopia has been taken away from the residents who started it.
We in Isla Vista share a common interest: We live here and most of us are students. Floatopia creates an amazing sense of community identity, making residents proud to live here. In a few years, myself as well as other graduates will look back and say, “I lived in I.V.” Unfortunately, many people may not be able to say, “I went to Floatopia on the beach at Isla Vista.”
But whether it be pool parties, slip n’ slides, hoses, water balloons, or super soakers—they may take our beach, but they will never take our freedom!