Everybody loves a great party. During a typical weekend in Isla Vista you can find party after party with the music blaring, crowds of people laughing, and the drinks flowing. For new students, this must seem like paradise, but it can quickly become a living hell.
There’s a downside to the big parties and the wild debauchery. Often, turning the beer spigot on and the music up loud encourages people to come in from off the street and check it out, and this can lead to a multitude of problems.
Take, for example, a recent festivity that went very wrong in a house with about a dozen residents. They set up speakers in their backyard and invited their closest friends, about 100 of them, over to drink and have fun. But just after midnight, someone became disgruntled and about 50 of the partygoers spilled out into the street to watch two men beat each other. By the end of the altercation, one of the partygoers was carted away in an ambulance, having been pummeled in the head.
Of course, it’s normal for drunken people to make bad choices, like picking a fight, but the reason for most violent confrontations involves party crashers.
Another group of students started out their college experience by having large parties — they thought the more the merrier. Eventually, they attracted the wrong person into their house. A guy they didn’t know came to the party and apparently became angry because he thought that one of the residents was hitting on his girlfriend. He got into a violent and scary confrontation with the residents which left windows shattered, one of the walls in the house destroyed, and tires of a car in the driveway slashed. In the wake of this incident, students in this house were wary of having any more large parties. From then on, they had live bands and only invited their friends.
In some cases, inviting strangers into your house can mean you might lose a few items you really liked, such as your iPad or your new phone. Time after time students find that expensive items have been stolen after large parties at their house. Even when residents catch on that they have a thief in their midst, they might be able to minimize loss, but they still have to confront someone who may or may not be violent and may have a weapon. One student said that he suspected a partygoer of stealing some of his stuff, so he and his roommates asked the guy to leave. He turned violent and scared the residents before heading down the street, slashing tires as he went.
There has recently been a campaign to encourage students to lock up their houses or apartments when they go out. This is part of an effort to change I.V.’s open-door tradition. For years students have thought it was okay to go to school or work and leave their places open. I’ve heard stories of students who went into other people’s homes and made peanut butter sandwiches or raided the refrigerator. While that kind of story makes me laugh, hearing about all the expensive items lost because of this open-door policy isn’t so funny.
According to police representatives, there has been a decrease in the amount of property theft reported. While the representative didn’t know if the campaign had affected the change, it seems like the attention focused on this issue has had a positive effect.
I think a similar campaign should be waged to target party-related problems. For the most part, students move to I.V. with the idea that the bigger the party, the better; but as they become older, and wiser, they realize that a smaller party, with friends and good music, is all you need. Instead of letting students learn through trial and error, the community might want to educate students before they get themselves into rough situations. Open parties and open houses might seem like a wonderful tradition in theory, in reality it can become a nightmare.