As with any community worthy of the title, we Isla Vista residents have our own customs. We bike to school in the morning, we read and write in coffee shops or in the fluorescent hell of the library’s 24-Hour Study, and we hang out with buddies on the weekend. We also run in our own smaller social circles, so while it’s easy to run across someone you know, our community seems to mostly function in fractured parts. Still, there is a tie that binds I.V. When there’s a sufficient pull for us to come together, we do so effortlessly.
Recently, the Web site Eventful offered colleges nationwide the chance to compete to host the premiere of the new Natalie Portman/James Franco vehicle Your Highness. When I was first tipped off to the contest’s existence by a UCSB list serve I subscribe to, I quickly went to sign up and vote for my school. All that was required of me was my email address—small toll for possibly getting to attend an afterparty with James Franco. Please.
In any event, I didn’t think too much of it when I also saw a Facebook event for the contest pop up on my newsfeed. No big deal. People can create a Facebook event for their cat’s half-birthday party, if they so desire. However, I found it fascinating to see people making a link to the contest as their status, followed by other of their FB friends doing the same, until, the next morning, I awoke to find that we had risen from low on the list of included universities to number two, just below Rutgers University.
This, in turn, bred more statuses plugging the contest, including one that demanded that we vote just so that we would not be bested by a school in New Jersey. “UCSB would throw the best after party” was a brag that seemed to be thrown around quite a bit. When an entertainment-related prize is at stake, Isla Vistans pull together.
Following the last presidential election, because we had the highest voter turnout of any college, the Ultimate College Bowl (a massive voter registration drive) had Death Cab For Cutie come and play a free concert for us. While I’m not saying that Isla Vista voters came out to the polls because they just really wanted to see Ben Gibbard play “I Will Follow You into the Dark” live, I am saying that our success in both contests says something about our ability to draw together, our agency as a community.
It makes you wonder. If the incentive was there, what else could we do as a community?
In any event, early this morning, I got an email notifying me that we are currently in first place in the Your Highness contest. We rose from 67th place to number one in a mere three days. As the Eventful Web site says that voting officially ends March 21, we haven’t technically been crowned the winner yet, but our meteoric rise, to me, speaks volumes about our potential.