March 20, 2015
Dear Members of our Campus Community,
As we enter into this special time of year when our attention turns toward our future students as well as our graduating seniors, I would like to take a few moments to share with you some of our most recent progress in Isla Vista. For many in our campus community, Isla Vista is an integral part of the university experience. As such, integrating Isla Vista into our planning and outreach efforts remains one of our highest priorities. I would like once again to offer my deep gratitude to the members of our UC Santa Barbara community whose tireless dedication has enabled us not only to address the challenges Isla Vista presents but also to build upon the tremendous opportunities the nearby community provides.
Our community at large is actively engaged at every level in working toward immediate and long-term cultural change in Isla Vista, and key to that has been the ability to harness and leverage our collective efforts. The Chancellor’s Coordinating Committee on Isla Vista, co-chaired by Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall and Academic Senate Chair Kum-Kum Bhavnani, has been meeting regularly since it was formed in October, and I have attended all of the meetings. The report written by a committee of our UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustees, chaired by Trustee and Professor Emeritus Duncan Mellichamp, has provided an important blueprint for the Committee. The Committee has had extensive and continuous discussions about such topics as safety, governance, and the academic and cultural activities in Isla Vista. It also has considered how projects contained in the Long Range Development Plan could be leveraged to improve the economy and diversify the demographics in Isla Vista. In addition to reviewing the Trustee report’s recommendations, the Committee has been reaching out to individuals and organizations both on and off campus to gain a better understanding of Isla Vista and to determine how the University can have the most positive influence in Isla Vista. Visitors invited to the Committee have included local business owners and community leaders, as well as the President and Vice President of Santa Barbara City College. I expect the Committee to issue a call for proposals for projects and curricula related to Isla Vista in the coming weeks. The Committee has also established a subcommittee to help coordinate the memorial events around the one-year anniversary of last May’s tragedy.
The University also is participating in the many ongoing conversations about governance in Isla Vista. Although various governance models are being discussed and debated, they hold promise for significant change, and it is very important that elected officials, residents, business owners, landlords, and UCSB students, faculty, staff, and administrators are coming together to talk about these options. I am grateful to George Thurlow, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Isla Vista, for the countless hours he has spent attending meetings and talking with various constituents. We are fully engaged with our elected officials as well as with administrators from the County of Santa Barbara and those from the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta. We are learning a great deal from our friends, colleagues, and neighbors. As momentum builds, the University — our students, faculty, and staff — will continue to play leading roles in enhancing the quality of life in Isla Vista.
We also have held discussions with Santa Barbara City College so we can coordinate efforts and cooperate wherever it is practical. SBCC can play an important role as we try to improve the culture and community for the many students living in Isla Vista.
A Growing Presence
Continuing our efforts to establish a greater presence within the Isla Vista community, the University is moving forward on a plan to create academic counseling centers in Isla Vista as well as facilities for health and wellness counseling. The University was recently awarded a $570,000 Department of Education grant that will help support and enhance health and wellness counseling on campus and in Isla Vista.
We are continuing to explore in Isla Vista the opportunity for and benefits of master leases, relationships in which the University leases and manages an entire residential property. The University has such arrangements in place in Isla Vista, which have been well-received by students and have allowed the University more oversight in off-campus housing. We will continue to pursue this strategy.
Our faculty, staff, and students have been active participants in First Fridays in Isla Vista, a program of late-night arts and culture. Our faculty members also have been holding faculty-student discussion dinners in Isla Vista. Dozens of professors and hundreds of students have participated since the pilot program launched last fall.
A host of other programs such as Isla Vista Arts, Shakespeare in the Park, weekly films and performances, IV OpenLab, and the Water Wheel restoration project have served as catalysts for social growth and change. In addition, students are working independently on their own initiatives. Associated Students, for example, which spends $500,000 annually in support of programing in Isla Vista, recently presented the first-ever Isla Vista Week to educate students and community members on Isla Vista’s history and issues involving the environment and housing.
Ongoing Safety Enhancements
UC Santa Barbara continues to work closely with local officials to enhance safety in Isla Vista. Over the past decade alone, the University has invested tens of millions of dollars in resources, including at least $2 million annually that the University provides for public safety. Recently, the University also contributed $220,000 to help fund additional street lighting and sidewalks projects. In addition, the University has created a $2-million fund as a part of its Long Range Development Plan to be matched by the County for the support of safety and infrastructure improvement projects.
Our UC Police Department (UCPD) is continuing its increased staffing and high-visibility patrols in Isla Vista on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Although we will not know the full impact of this overall effort until more time has passed and additional data has been collected, preliminary numbers suggest the impact is noteworthy. Reports to the UCPD of crimes in Isla Vista have decreased dramatically when compared to the same five-month period last year. Among them are burglary (-78%), weapons offenses (-50%), and vandalism (-69%). The increased lighting funded by the University for Isla Vista and the UCSB campus, combined with the DUI checkpoints conducted regularly by UCPD, the City of Goleta, the Sheriff’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol, may also be contributing to the decreasing crime rates, but we will know more when we receive data that is provided annually by the Sheriff’s Office. We are committed to continuing this effort for the safety and well-being of our students.
Community policing is an important focus of the UCPD, with the goal of building better ties with the Isla Vista community. The department has hosted several events, such as “Pizza with a Cop,” that have brought together students, community members, and police officers to share ideas and concerns, develop mutual understandings, and build stronger relationships. Finally, the University and the UCPD have undertaken a survey to get a better sense of student priorities regarding safety on campus and in Isla Vista.
Another effort to enhance safety in Isla Vista involves the construction of a permanent fence along the IV bluffs. We recently announced that in order to ensure the timely completion of this important community safety project, the University is providing the County of Santa Barbara with the $70,000 necessary for construction. The fence will be constructed on land owned by the County and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District. This project is one that students, parents, faculty and staff members, and many Isla Vista residents have advocated for, and I want to acknowledge their efforts and the work of the County in securing the permits and overseeing the community design process, construction, and maintenance of the fence.
We have also been actively engaged in efforts to combat sexual violence on campus and in Isla Vista, including participating in a systemwide task force on sexual assault and sexual violence, established by President Napolitano. The UC Santa Barbara advocacy model has recently been adopted systemwide and we are continuing to strengthen our robust sexual violence education, awareness, and prevention programs. In the past year we have launched many new initiatives and added new resources and training for faculty, staff and teaching assistants under our CARE program. This will equip our campus to better communicate with our community about the issue, and to better serve community members who have been victims of interpersonal violence. We have also hired an additional licensed counseling psychologist with specialization in interpersonal violence, as well as several other mental health professionals with varying areas of expertise.
Keeping Isla Vista Local
Thanks to strong, proactive “Keep It Local” messages, alternative student events on campus, the significant presence of law enforcement, and some rain that Friday, the Halloween weekend was peaceful and uneventful. Building on these strategies, the University is preparing a similar proactive response to the unsanctioned street festival in Isla Vista known as “Deltopia.” To provide our students with alternatives, the University is partnering with Associated Students and other student organizations to sponsor a number of events on campus throughout the day and evening, including a street fair, activities in the RecCen, movies, and a late-night concert at the Events Center/Thunderdome.
More than 100 officers, many from our sister campuses, will be on hand to assist with safety and security in Isla Vista. Our resources will augment those of the County, which also plans to have approximately 200 officers at the ready. The County also has augmented its existing festival ordinance to cover unsanctioned festivals in the spring, thereby increasing fines for misconduct and extending noise ordinances. To deter out-oftown visitors, Housing & Residential Services has implemented a no-guest policy and campus parking will be restricted to permit holders during certain hours. The City of Goleta will restrict parking as well in the neighborhoods surrounding Isla Vista. In addition, the University is implementing a social media campaign — similar to what was done in advance of Halloween — to discourage visitors from coming to UC Santa Barbara or Isla Vista and to inform them of the ordinances, restrictions, penalties, and consequences that will be in place.
The University holds regular meetings with our colleagues from the County, the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the City of Goleta, and Santa Barbara City College to ensure coordination and communication, and we continue to work with local businesses and Isla Vista property owners to address the concerns of our community.
A Varied and Vibrant Place
Our efforts to improve the quality of life in Isla Vista, to build upon its vibrant and diverse culture, and to better integrate it with our academic community have begun to bear fruit and lead to significant changes. The leadership demonstrated by our students, faculty and staff members, alumni, donors, and members of the broader community has shown that change in Isla Vista is not only necessary but also possible. It will take concerted effort and cooperation to bring about lasting solutions. While Isla Vista remains a work in progress, given the many positive changes already in motion, I am confident we will continue to move forward together with even greater momentum.
The University’s commitment to this endeavor remains steadfast and unwavering. We will all continue to work collaboratively and intensively to identify and implement action plans and long-term changes that will enhance Isla Vista and make it a vibrant academic living and learning environment to complement our stature as a world-class research university.
Thank you for your many contributions and ongoing efforts.
Henry T. Yang