It’s been said that one should never judge a book by its cover, but if you were to judge I.V. on its appearances this weekend, you might conclude that residents are in for an intense year. With the combination of overcrowded classrooms, student and professor walkouts, stabbings, water balloons flying from balconies, and partying on parked cars – literally – then I.V. seemed more like some deviation of National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Welcome to Debt, Class of 2013
The first day of UCSB’s 2009-10 school year began with the typical hustle of students biking to and from campus. What was unusual on campus was the unbelievable amount of overcrowded classrooms. It is evident through GOLD – Gaucho Online Data, the university website through which students register for classes – that the whole of the University of California has been affected by the Budget Crisis. Fewer courses are offered, many courses disappeared from the website completely, and class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios have increased, leaving less time for students to connect with their professors. As a senior, it is not only stressful trying to complete the requirements to graduate, but now it is a battle to even sign up for courses required to walk this spring. In our final quarters at UCSB, we will not get into prized courses that we have been waiting to take all three years.
In protest, a walkout was scheduled for Thursday, September 24, and many professors were not afraid to stand behind picket lines. One professor in the university’s history department, Laura Kalman, sent out an e-mail supporting those who were pro-walkout. “We will meet Thursday. I support the walkout. I was raised never to cross a picket line, and I have supported every work stoppage at UCSB since I arrived here in 1982,” she said. Kalman went on to explain that she supports the walkout entirely, but with the overwhelming amount of crashers she decided to go ahead with the lecture. “If you feel uncomfortable crossing a picket line this Thursday, I entirely understand. If you are enrolled in the course, you won’t be dropped from it”.
In the classroom, the budget crisis is even more apparent. Students were cramming in classrooms with arms and legs flailing out the lecture halls. In one of my classes, students literally fought over a desk. It was a mess. While crowded classes are typical on the first day of school, the likelihood of “crashers” getting into a desired course wasn’t looking good.
As California faces an unprecedented $800 million deficit, UCSB also suffers from an estimated $40 million in overwhelming debt. With professors contemplating leaving the university or already having left, there will be a ripple effect on lower levels of education, larger class sizes, declined motivation and fewer graduates with hopeful futures, ultimately lowering the prestige and reputation of our university as a whole.
Infamously known for riding on “daddy’s paycheck,” UCSB students haven’t seemed to be too affected in the past by the budget crisis. But regardless of where our funds come from, we feel the difference. Frankly, going into a classroom where professors are less motivated and where books prieces, university fees, and tuition are steadily rising, I begin to wonder: What is the point of going to a public school at all?
“We go to UCSB with the expectation that we will get what the university is famous for – prestige and recognition,” said UCSB senior Taylor Bloom on the crisis. We expect brilliant lectures, enthusiastic TAs, professors, and Nobel laureates in our future.
“You’re not getting what you’re paying for,” noted writing department professor Nick on the first day of class. “I think something has got to change, but I don’t know where the hell the change is going to come from,” he said.
“People have to make a sacrifice in one way or the other,” said Bloom. As Isla Vista students enjoy the first exciting days of school, it is important to spread awareness and take action in order to preserve standards of education and keep our heads above indebted waters.
And the Weekend Begins
That Thursday night, students seemed to drown their stressful first day of school sorrows by partying in the streets. In the midst of madness, two visitors to I.V. stabbed a 20-year-old who had also traveled to our community.. According to officials, the fight broke out on the 6600 block of Del Playa Drive around midnight. The streets were lined with caution tape, blocking nearly 10 houses. The victim was stabbed in the right side of his ribcage and endured several additional injuries on his arm.
“[The victim] was wearing a white shirt and all of a sudden blood appeared on the front of his shirt and then started showing on the back,” described a passerby near the scene of the crime. “It was terrifying.”
In total over the weekend, officers issued over 60 citations and nearly 20 arrests according to Sheriff’s records. But among the debauchery, there were amazing parties and the positive energy was palpable.
For example, in I.V. it is tradition to bombard freshman with water balloons. Older students wait for the chance to seek revenge after that senior who pegged them freshman year. This weekend was no exception and the water balloons were flying. Unbeknownst to many, throwing water balloons is an illegal act of assault and rightfully so. When alcohol is involved, people often over-retaliate. I saw one water balloon victim throw a beer can against a balcony, making a loud sound and spraying everywhere.
Meanwhile, just down the street near the Marley House, Del Playa was packed. People were standing, dancing and singing to the music blaring as far as one could see. My personal favorite was seeing students dancing on cars. Many described the scene as being crazier than even I.V.’s infamous Halloween celebration.
Despite the budget crisis, students christened our city in Isla Vista style. Looks like we are in for a wild year, so hold on.