In elementary school, teachers talk a lot about values and appropriate behavior. They teach children to share, respect each other, work hard, and be responsible. There is time carved out of the day to discuss how to be productive and positive members of the community. Students are reminded to be considerate of others and to analyze how their behavior affects those around them.
As students get older, everyone seems to take for granted that these lessons have been learned. People assume that college students know how to be responsible members of society. Institutions of higher learning take less and less responsibility for the conduct of their attendees. While this laissez-faire attitude may work in other areas, it is proving to be a huge mistake in Isla Vista.
Some students, definitely not all, party nonstop. They have the biggest, loudest parties as often as possible, and invite anyone, and everyone, to party with them. They are of the opinion that they have a right to party any way they choose, regardless of the consequences. This past year’s Deltopia is an example of what can happen when things get out of control.
Police say the party atmosphere in I.V. make it a magnet for criminals, who are drawn to the area because they can find easy prey. Drunken students can be robbed or worse. The open-door policy that has been the norm in I.V. for decades makes it easy for thieves to walk into a home and take whatever they want.
While locals, including one who lived in the area for three decades, sounded the alarm long ago (he eventually decided to move), saying that things in I.V. were taking a violent turn, it wasn’t until the string of events this past year that people from outside of the community started to take notice. Politicians, university representatives, and many others have voiced concern. With this spotlight on I.V., Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara are being forced to take a more proactive approach with their students.
SBCC has already kicked off the school year with a new initiative. When students register for City College classes, they are being required to agree to a code of conduct governing on- and off-campus behavior. It is described as an “honor code.” Students pledge to respect their community and those who live in it. While not a cure-all by any means for what ails I.V., it is at least a step in the right direction.
The idea was first discussed at the SBCC Associated Student Government meeting on October 11, 2013. This was before the gang rapes, Deltopia riot, and the mass murder. The honor code states that students should act honorably and responsibly both on and off campus. When they register, students “pledge to be truthful at all times, to treat others with civility and respect, to respect the property of others and to adhere to Santa Barbara City College policies, administrative procedures and standards of student conduct.” It also emphasizes the importance of following principles such as honor, respect, citizenship, and integrity in personal conduct and academic work.
With a large number of SBCC students living in I.V. — the exact number is a matter of debate — any steps taken to make them all responsible members of the community is a positive thing. Many groups, such as SBCC Associated Students, plan to meet regularly with local authorities and UC representatives to discuss issues. Hopefully, by implementing some of the new programs and initiatives that have been discussed, SBCC and UC Santa Barbara representatives will ensure that the area becomes known for something other than its problems.