IV Needs to Do Better

Image via The Santa Barbara Independent

When I started my freshman year at UCSB back in 2015, I was surprised to see exactly how friendly and welcoming the students of UCSB were. Prior, I had been told to not ask obvious questions or “look like a freshman” so that I wouldn't annoy upperclassmen. There were even rumors of people throwing water balloons at anyone who looked new in IV during week zero. In actuality, none of this was true; at least not back in the fall of 2015.

Three years later, I return to IV not quite the way I found it. Anyone who’s been on the Free & For Sale (UCSB) Facebook page this past month knows about the awful car incidents that have been happening in IV. Cases range from small scrapes and broken mirrors to a car being tipped completely on its side, causing an immense amount of damage. I think it’s safe to say that these aren’t mere accidents.

Cars aren’t the only things being damaged in IV. Rent scooters and bikes have been found dumped into the ocean and tossed in the middle of walkways and bike paths. I personally even saw someone pick up a Bird scooter over their head and throw it on the ground just because they had drunkenly fallen off of it.

None of this behavior is okay. I know some people might find these incidents funny, but with the car damages especially, that's someone’s personal property that they’re damaging, not just some company’s flashy products. It’s heartbreaking to see that there are people in IV who have no empathy for the people whose belongings they’re damaging.

It seems that what many of these occurrences have in common, though not all, are that they often happen at night and on the weekends. I know a lot of people are blaming drugs and alcohol, and while they may offer some explanation, they are definitely not excuses.

Many solely blame non-UCSB residents and out-of-towners. And while this may also be a viable explanation, it’s hard for me to believe that with the large number of cases that have been seen, that not a single one was done by a UCSB student. It really is unfortunate to say that because I too want to believe that UCSB students wouldn’t do this to their fellow Gauchos.

My message to the offenders is to understand that we’re all just students here in IV. Many of us don’t have much money and are dependent on financial aid and/or our jobs. Of course, it can be said that cars are just things and that money shouldn’t matter, but the unfortunate truth is that cars are probably the most expensive things that people our age own. And they're often the only form of transportation students have to their homes, internships, jobs, etc.

I never expect UCSB and IV to be full of sunshine and rainbows. I’m not naïve. I know that there will always be crime and delinquencies wherever I go, especially in a college town. But these days, IV is not what I used to know it to be. It’s not petty theft and accidental scratches anymore, it’s purposely inflicted damages for no better reason I can think of other than pure entitlement. Slowly, I’m seeing IV become the rowdy town of irresponsible students that it’s stereotyped to be.

IV needs to do better. I hope that by the time I leave this school, I can be restored with hope, knowing that the residents of IV and the students of UCSB have each others' backs; that “I Gaucho back” is not just a silly saying. And so, though I don’t think my words will stop those who are responsible for the damages, I hope that the people who do care will keep an eye out, report what they see, take pictures/videos, stop crime in its tracks, and help one another out.

Because it's not just IV that needs to do better. UCSB needs to do better.