I was going to dedicate this week’s column to the election — you
know, vote or die, rock the vote and such — with an added emphasis
on the issues and candidates I care about. Then I realized that by
the time my column actually runs, the votes will have already been
tabulated and whether I like the outcome or not, the election will
be over. Sure, I plan on voting. Voting is not only a
responsibility and a privilege that we must exercise in order to
keep our democracy alive, but it is also an opportunity to score
one of the best accessories Uncle Sam has to offer — those cute
little “I voted” stickers that tell the world that
you just had a hand in deciding the course of one of the most
powerful countries in the world. Forget the fact that you can
shotgun a beer in 10 seconds flat or score
straight A’s on 10 minutes of sleep, being able to vote (and vote
intelligently) is a pretty awesome ability to have.


But just because I vote, and even vote intelligently, it doesn’t
mean the whole election is going to turn out exactly the way I’d
like. Sure, every vote makes a difference, but let’s face it, not
everyone makes the same choices I do when perusing their sample
ballots. This got me thinking. So often in our lives as college
students, decisions are made that have a direct impact on our lives
but we are given little or no chance to participate in them. At
least voting gives us the opportunity to have some say, no matter
how small it may be. But how about decisions like how much a year
of college is going to cost us, how generous a professor’s curve is
going to be, and how high Freebirds can mark up the price
of its nachos
? As much as we’d like to think we have some
control over our day-to-day lives, the reality is that there is at
least as much happening on a given day that is out of our control
as there is in it.

That’s not to say that everything is out of our control — as
much as it may seem like it on those days when your rent is due,
your phone bill is late, your paycheck is short a few hundred
bucks, and your roommate won’t get out of the shower so you can
pee and brush your teeth before the class that
starts in five minutes. In fact, when it comes to two of the most
common complaints of students in I.V. — the battle to make ends
meet at the market and the battle with lazy landlords at home —
there are local resources specifically designed to help students
get back some control over their daily lives.

We all pay way too much for pretty much everything in our lives,
from textbooks to tuition fees, from rent to the recently raised
cost of parking on campus; it seems like everything costs students
more than it did before. And, unlike the whole Uggs and
skirts thing
, this trend is showing no signs of slowing
down. For most of us, who are living off of low-paying part-time
jobs that barely cover the cost of food, gas, and the occasional
keg, making ends meet is a monthly battle that involves
bargain-hunting, coupon-cutting, and the occasional tearful fit at
the supermarket — yes, that was me crying in the cleaning supplies
aisle, let’s not make a big deal about it. But it doesn’t always
have to be that way.

Lucky for us, I.V. is home to a decades-old institution that
offers organic, wholesome food at Easy Mac and Ramen prices. Yes,
I’m talking about the Isla Vista Food Co-Op.
Founded in the 1970s, this one-stop shop is a haven for
health nuts, hippie kids, and
smart shoppers alike, all of whom flock to the
little store on Seville Road for its selection of good-for-you
groceries; environmentally friendly cooking, cleaning, and
self-care products; and out-of-this world deli offerings. cooplogo-color-small.png With plenty of vegetarian, kosher, and
vegan products on its shelves, the co-op offers all the selection
of a specialty store at prices that prove it belongs in I.V. For an
even better deal on their inventory, ask about becoming a member —
for just $30 a year, you can get a ton of benefits, including daily
discounts and access to special member-appreciation days at the
store. And, since the co-op is run by students and residents, for
students and residents, you know your grocery money is going toward
a good cause, rather than just another corporate yacht for the big
guys at K-MART. For more information about the co-op, check out

If a lackadaisical landlord is the dominant problem in your
life, finding a good deal on locally grown produce isn’t really
going to help. But the fine folks at the Isla Vista Tenants
(IVTU) can. This group of students and local
residents is dedicated to making sure that everyone in I.V. gets a
fair break when it comes to rent and renters’ issues, so even
though we may be only temporary residents of the most beautiful
slum in California, we’re not treated like it by our landlords. The
IVTU is skilled at helping students sort out landlord
issues, roommate problems, and more. And, with their new office
right next to the equally useful Associated Students
Legal Resource Center
on Pardall Road, the Tenants Union is
better equipped than ever to help you take back control of your
apartment, if not your life.


The high cost of living and the high likelihood of living with a
less-than-stellar landlord are just two of the problems we deal
with on a daily basis in I.V. Although solutions exist to help
wayward students regain at least a little control over both of
those individual issues, the underlying problems that caused them
will continue to frustrate students and local residents alike until
fundamental changes are made to the way I.V., California, and the
nation are structured. Let’s face it, from a disastrous war
abroad to devastatingly low minimum wages at home
, America
is rife with problems that — for most of the year — are largely out
of our control. But, thanks to the beauty of democracy, we do get at least one day when we have a
say in things. And even if the outcome of the election ends up
sending you straight to a big bag of cookies for comfort, at least
there’s a place nearby where you can get those cookies cheaply and
chock full of organic ingredients. Ain’t democracy sweet?


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