October 3, 2014
Dear UC Santa Barbara Students and Parents,
Welcome to the 2014-15 academic year! We are excited to have our new and returning students on campus, and we appreciate all the intellectual and creative vitality you bring with you.
As the fall quarter gets underway, I want to provide an update on what the university and broader campus community are doing to ensure a safe and secure environment for living and learning, both on campus and in Isla Vista. I know this is an issue of concern for many of you, and I want to assure you that it is our top priority.
You will notice a number of changes on campus and in Isla Vista intended to enhance safety, including improved lighting and fencing, new weekend rules to limit parking to members of the UC Santa Barbara community, and the continued increased presence of UCPD patrols in Isla Vista during weekend nights. A committee of faculty, staff, and students is reviewing the need for additional security cameras. We understand the sensitive nature of this issue, and we will continue to consult with the university community on the best ways to balance concerns about safety and privacy.
Of course, we must go well beyond these measures to bring about lasting improvements.
We are comprehensively examining our options for increasing the university’s presence in Isla Vista. These include opportunities for the university to lease residential properties for use as student housing and develop new faculty and staff housing. We are also working closely with long-term IV residents and property owners to learn how we can collaborate with them to bring about positive change in the community.
Our faculty is also a key part of our efforts. We have established a new program in which faculty members can invite small groups of students to join them for dinner in Isla Vista. I encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities for good conversation. Most importantly, these dinners will allow students and faculty members the time to share ideas for increasing the university’s engagement in Isla Vista and extending its academic and cultural community.
As you know, there is a national discussion underway about the need to combat sexual violence. The University of California is actively engaged in these efforts. President Napolitano has established a systemwide task force on sexual assault and sexual violence to address this critical issue. At UC Santa Barbara, we are providing new resources and training for faculty, staff, and teaching assistants under our Campus Advocacy Resources and Education Program. This will equip our campus to better communicate with our community about the issue, as well as to better serve community members who have been victims of interpersonal violence.
Beyond our community, we are working closely with elected officials at the county and state level to encourage them to consider legislative changes to improve the governance and quality of life in Isla Vista, through the implementation of a resident permit parking program and new safety ordinances.
All of these actions and plans build upon efforts already underway to improve safety, security, and quality of life for our community members. But we need all of you to be part of this work, too.
In particular, we need our students’ help in continuing to cultivate a culture of respect and accountability. That is why students have taken the lead on an initiative to develop a student pledge that sets common standards and expectations for behavior both on campus and off. We are also working with students on a Good Neighbor Program to encourage student residents of IV to be a part of creating a positive and sustainable community, and I encourage more students to participate.
Finally, I’d like to ask all of you to do your part to make sure that Halloween this year is fun, enjoyable – and safe. We are working hard with all stakeholders to mitigate the influx of people from outside of our community to Isla Vista on Halloween, and ask you to do the same. We are creating on-campus, late-night Halloween events as an alternative to spending the evening on the streets in Isla Vista.
Improving our living and learning environment will require a sustained effort and a comprehensive approach. Because the issues involved affect almost every part of our university and addressing them is critical, I have asked Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall and Academic Senate Chair Kum-Kum Bhavnani to co-chair a committee, which includes student representatives, to coordinate this work. I welcome your feedback and recommendations.
I am enormously grateful to the students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, Trustees, donors, and residents who are helping to bring about improvements and cultural change in Isla Vista to make our UC Santa Barbara community an unparalleled place to live, learn, teach, and forge relationships that last a lifetime.
In closing, I would like to share the following video to welcome all new and returning students back to campus. I encourage you to take full advantage of the resources provided by the vibrant community of UC Santa Barbara.
Henry T. Yang