It’s not hard to argue that UCSB has had a rough year. Even before the horrific tragedy of May 23, gang rapes and stabbings and riots — coupled with student efforts to get “trigger warnings” placed on course syllabi — made headlines and seemed to indicate an uptick in disorder in the notorious oceanfront town. “It has been both romanticized and vilified,” wrote Chancellor Henry Yang in a lengthy email sent to the university community last week. Noting that events that occur in Isla Vista reflect — positively and negatively — on UCSB, Yang outlined new improvement efforts resulting from a new committee, which may represent a shift in university administrators buckling down on the saturated college town.
Referencing the Long Range Management Plan, Yang mentioned lighting first. He wrote with some urgency that the university committed an additional $220,000 to the county for immediate improvements. In the past year, lights were installed along Del Playa Drive, Sabado Tarde, and Trigo Road through a county-led effort dubbed the Isla Vista Street LED Project. Last week 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr announced she secured $85,000 to fund the final phase of the project. Yang also mentioned controversial topics such as parking — the possibility of implementing resident permits — and permanent fencing. (Portions of the temporary orange mesh fencing were torn down by an angry student a day after it was installed last week.) Yang also promised university-police-sponsored DUI checkpoints beginning in September.
It’s no secret that alcohol and drugs play a considerable role in Isla Vista’s havoc. Currently, incoming students must participate in an online tutorial for substance abuse and sexual violence called Gaucho FYI, and Yang said such programs will be expanded and specified to conditions in Isla Vista. Earlier this year, the Obama administration publicized the lack of attention given to sexual violence at colleges nationwide.