July 30, 2014
Summer quarter is well underway and many of you are busy teaching or pursuing your research endeavors, but I want to take a few moments to share an update on some of our efforts to address issues of safety and cultural change in Isla Vista.
Since my last two communications, I have continued to meet with many of our colleagues and have received valuable feedback from across the University. This shared sense of urgency and responsibility makes me hopeful that our efforts to address the safety of our students in the short term will be met with equal success in our long-term efforts to effect lasting change in the culture of Isla Vista. I continue to receive many enthusiastic offers of assistance, which I welcome heartily. The task ahead will require creative solutions and a sustained effort.
We have made meaningful progress on several fronts, but first I would like share some updated data and information from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office and address community concerns regarding enrollment.
Deltopia Arrest Update
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office recently released revised numbers of arrests and citations from the Deltopia weekend, and they were quite revealing. Of the 470 individuals arrested or cited, 4.5 percent (21) were affiliated with UC Santa Barbara; 4.7 percent (22) were affiliated with Santa Barbara City College; and 3 percent (14) were from other UC campuses. Of those arrested or cited, 70 percent were not affiliated with any university, and the remaining 30 percent included students from 66 different institutions. The University is focused on addressing the behavior of our students, but it is helpful for others to see how large crowds from out of town contribute to creating a dangerous environment for our students and other Isla Vista residents.
Fall 2014 Enrollment
There have been many questions about the impact that recent events have had on our fall enrollment. Each year, 8 to 9 percent of students who have submitted a “statement of intent to register” (SIR) cancel their applications due to a variety of reasons. Data for freshmen entering in Fall 2014 indicate the number of cancellations will be lower than we have historically experienced. As of July 30, 2014, the number of cancellations is significantly less than we experienced at this time last year. Specifically, we have received 109 cancellations for the Fall 2014 term, compared to 155 on July 30, 2013. This is not to say that we have not experienced any negative impacts. Several individuals indicated that the culture and incidents in Isla Vista were the reason for their cancellation. These concerns are yet another indication of how important it is for our community to address these issues. However, summer activity in the Visitor Center shows that interest remains strong. Reservations for summer tours are robust, and visitors are enthusiastic about our campus.
Our Office of Admissions has confirmed that our recruitment staff will expand outreach efforts to showcase our excellent academic programs and to address any questions or concerns about the campus climate and Isla Vista. In addition, social media campaigns and webinars are underway to encourage applications for the Fall 2015 term.
Our Graduate Division has also been monitoring SIR data for the incoming class. The typical graduate student SIR cancellation rate is approximately 8 percent. To date, they report that the SIR cancellation rate is 4 percent. Though the number is expected to increase over the summer, they do not expect it to exceed the anticipated 8 percent rate. A few departments, however, did report that events this spring negatively impacted recruiting efforts. Our Graduate Division Admissions and Outreach staff will be working closely with academic departments this fall to address any concerns brought up by prospective applicants regarding Isla Vista.
Increasing the University Presence in Isla Vista
We are still in the process of working out details for the faculty IV dining program, and hope to have more information by the beginning of Fall quarter about how faculty members can participate. Many of our colleagues have expressed interest in holding classes in Embarcadero Hall or in the Isla Vista Theater as a way to increase the faculty presence in Isla Vista. It is a very promising idea, and we will be looking at the best way to work it into the regular scheduling process. Many others have shared their desire to integrate the University’s extensive art and cultural programming already taking place in Isla Vista as a part of the initiative, which we hope will be an added incentive for engagement.
The University has also recently started exploring the possibility of master leasing specific properties in Isla Vista. In a master lease, the University leases an entire apartment complex from the landlord/manager, and then issues individual leases for individual units under University housing practices and policies. Master leasing has the potential to increase the University’s presence in Isla Vista without increasing the density (i.e., new construction) in the community. In some cases it might actually serve to decrease the density while providing better housing opportunities for our students and possibly even faculty and staff.
We have continued to reach out to and meet with longtime residents of Isla Vista to listen to their ideas and build a stronger relationship with them. In addition, we are working to engage with owners of rental properties who are interested in finding solutions to the challenges in Isla Vista, and have had many positive interactions and learned about some of the issues that they face as landlords.
This summer, the University will also submit a proposal to Santa Barbara County officials requesting to lease space in the County-owned Isla Vista Medical Clinic building. Leasing this space will allow us to place counseling psychologists and sexual violence advocate staff in Isla Vista, making them even more accessible to students in the community. (More information on the University’s response to sexual violence can be found in the last section of this letter.)
Bringing an Outside Perspective
We are fortunate to have the extraordinary expertise of our UC Santa Barbara Foundation Board to bring to bear on these issues in the form of their Advisory Committee on Isla Vista Strategies. I have attached a copy of a recent message from Foundation Board Chair Marcy Carsey to the Board regarding the work of the Trustees’ Advisory Committee. The Committee has been meeting weekly during the last two months, and they have formed working groups that cover a range of issues that impact the Isla Vista community. Trustee and Professor Emeritus Duncan Mellichamp has met with me weekly and has informed me that he expects the Committee to complete its work by the beginning of the Fall quarter and that it will offer recommendations for the University, the Isla Vista community, and the broader Santa Barbara region. I will update you when their work is complete.
Engaging the County
Separate from the work of the Trustees’ Committee, the University has continued to meet with local officials to push for increased efforts to address safety issues for our students. We recognize the important role that the County should play in finding solutions. Recently, several members from UC Santa Barbara joined Santa Barbara County officials in a meeting with elected officials and our colleagues from San Luis Obispo to learn the best practices that were put in place to address similar concerns about the safety of unsponsored festivals in their city.
We are using this information to help inform our early planning for this year’s expected Halloween event. We will increase the presence of UC police officers dramatically by reaching out to our sister campuses for additional personnel, who are experienced in dealing with students. In addition, the Division of Student Affairs is working with students to develop alternative on-campus events for our students, with the hope that we will be able to keep many out of Isla Vista that weekend.
We were informed that the City of San Luis Obispo is primarily responsible for the costs of their increased safety measures, and were pleased to see our County partners take note as well. However, we anticipate that UC Santa Barbara will continue to take the lead in covering the majority of the costs, at least in the short term. We will be able to make this commitment due in part to the fundraising efforts of our Trustees, alumni, friends, staff, and faculty. The University is extremely grateful for their generosity and care.
We continue to work with Santa Barbara County officials in support of new legislation and ordinances that may help to address safety in Isla Vista, including issues related to increased fines for violations and citations as well as possible options for permitted parking in Isla Vista. Although a process will need to take place regarding any new ordinances, we are hopeful, given some of the recent meetings we have had with officials, that we will make progress on this front. We also are working with officials to address the concern raised by many faculty members, students, and even residents of the Isla Vista community that existing ordinances and policies need to be enforced. The University will continue to aggressively advocate for and support the County in resuming these efforts.
Student Affairs continues to reach out to students and their elected leadership as a part of the process. In addition to working on late-night-alternative weekend programming (specifically for, but not limited to, the Halloween weekend), Student Affairs is continuing to work on a pledge/social contract for incoming students so they are aware of the expectations we have for them both on campus and in the Isla Vista community.
The UCSB Police Department has informed me of their intentions to conduct multiple sobriety checkpoints on campus during Fall quarter to promote safety. The police department, as required by law, will notify the campus community and the public prior to planned checkpoints. Officers have been meeting with student groups to explain the nature of these checkpoints and to clarify that they are not about checking IDs, but rather solely for safety and sobriety.
Responding to Sexual Violence
The issue of sexual violence/assault on university campuses across the country has rightly become a priority issue for all of us in higher education. Here at UC Santa Barbara it is closely related to student safety in Isla Vista, as the majority of the cases seen by our counseling and advocate services occur in that community.
UC Santa Barbara has a robust sexual violence education, awareness, and prevention program on campus, including many new programs and resources added this past year.
While we have made important progress, we recognize that much remains to be done. We have recently provided additional funding for the CARE program to hire another full-time state-certified sexual assault advocate and a part-time prevention education coordinator. In addition, the Office of the Chancellor has provided permanent funding to our Counseling and Psychological Services to hire an additional licensed counseling psychologist with specialization in interpersonal violence. Across the nation and especially on college campuses, sexual assaults are underreported, and our efforts to reach out to students and to raise awareness about this important issue will result in more students having the confidence and trust to report incidents, thus allowing authorities to take action.
I am pleased to share a few highlights of our overall efforts with you:
- UC Santa Barbara requires all incoming students, including transfer students, to complete mandatory training on sexual violence and awareness. The program includes both in-person and online training. These are complemented by mandatory education programs on alcohol and drug use.
- In addition to these training sessions, we are currently expanding our programs to further educate students about off-campus situations, specifically in Isla Vista, where surveys show that 90 percent of the incidents occur.
- The University has recently implemented a bystander intervention program and has trained more than 400 student liaisons in peer response/support and intervention skills.
- Our student orientation contains educational programming on sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. These presentations occur over multiple days in multiple formats.
- Parents are provided with printed information about campus resources and are given a presentation about our sexual assault prevention and advocacy response during orientation.
- Ongoing awareness and education programs and trainings are sponsored throughout the year by the Campus Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE) program.
- Additional courses on interpersonal violence are offered by our police department across campus and in residence halls throughout the year.
- CARE works closely with student groups throughout the year to highlight sexual assault awareness and sponsor events related to prevention.
- CARE holds specific trainings for student groups such as the Greek societies and will provide brief presentations to classrooms if faculty are interested.
- CARE, along with our Title IX Office, trains faculty and staff in awareness of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
- We are working with two local community victim service providers to create a large-scale marketing campaign in Isla Vista to highlight campus services and bystander intervention messages. This campaign includes partnerships with private businesses in Isla Vista.
- Our CARE program also provides legal and academic advocacy services to victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- We have a Violence Intervention and Prevention Internship program, which trains interns to educate others and create change in their own community.
- With additional grant funding, our police department hopes to hire an additional police officer who would be dedicated to investigating reports of sexual violence.
UC Santa Barbara is entering the final year of the 2011 -2014 grant cycle as a recipient of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) grants, which have helped us to increase the resources available to our students. Prior to the current grant, our campus was part of the UC systemwide flagship grant from 2008 to 2011. In April, Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon, who heads the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, visited the University to recognize and highlight our campus programs as a model for other institutions across the country. During her visit, Assistant Secretary Lhamon praised UCSB’s response to the challenges presented by sexual violence in our campus community.
UC President Janet Napolitano has made it clear that the University of California has no tolerance for sexual violence or sexual assault and wants to ensure that UC is the national leader in combating sexual violence and sexual assault. To build upon the extensive work already done by campuses in this area, the President has established a Task Force to explore these issues, improve the University’s current processes, develop recommendations, and implement strategies across the UC system. UC Santa Barbara is represented on the Task Force and in each of the five work groups that have been established to develop leading best practices for all areas of violence prevention, investigation, and response.
In closing, let me again express my sincere gratitude for your commitment to working together to create real and lasting change for our students. As always, I welcome any additional ideas and suggestions.