Stupid, Fun, Traditions

Courtesy of Eugene Ho

Michael Bates


Like the Great Pumpkin, UCSB traditions are both sketchy and sincere at the same time.  Everyone overlooks UCSB’s great history as a prime institution of learning and research.  Instead, our more outstanding traditions are more fun and fancy-free.

One academic tradition is the Undie Run.  Every Wednesday of finals week, UCSB students dress down in their best undergarments and run from the middle of Davidson Library to the end of Del Playa.  It’s a fun way to blow off steam, and primo excuse to have a “be in shape by” date.  Plenty of people take pictures though, so it’s not an event for those averse to being photographed.  It was a parade of wonder the first time I was passed by a great sea of half-naked flesh, and is something I won’t soon forget.

Unfortunately freshmen traditions aren’t so cool.

In the opening weeks of the school year it’s assumed anyone wearing UCSB-branded clothing is a freshman, and to berate him or her as such.  In addition, houses along DP and other streets will arm themselves with a load of water balloons to throw at any random passersby.  While asinine, it’s a fact of life in Isla Vista, so don’t wear your best clothes out.

An involuntary tradition is the Freshmen 15, where you gain around 15 pounds. Being on your own with unlimited amounts of food from the dining commons and probably unsupervised alcohol/substance consumption help.  Just watch yourself and exercise self control, and you’ll avoid those problems.  The Recreational Center, our gym, is free to students, so there’s no need to let yourself go.

Another custom is for people to stress that in IV, one must walk in the street, and not on the sidewalk.  While it sounds dumb, it’s socially enforced, and well noted.  Don’t even think about taking your vehicle onto any street in IV, as you won’t be able to get anywhere through the crowd of people.  I’ve been in too many cars where pedestrians, instead of moving, merely walk on and over the car, fearless in the face of a honking horn.

On a lighter note, Extravaganza is our musical tradition.  Every Spring Quarter, UCSB has a free musical event, now exclusive to students, with a variety of big names and genres.  Speculation and complaint about the play list is a cherished part of student life.  Seeing it last year, nothing could ever beat Cee-Lo Green singing Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with his all female rock ‘n’ roll band.  You just can’t get enough experiences like that.

Floatopia is a former tradition in IV, held during the first week of Spring Break, but after a particularly good 2009, the local law enforcement shuts down the beaches for those first couple weeks.  Instead, DP-topia is a makeshift weekend long party held along the streets of IV.  Just make sure to keep all your stuff in your pockets and say hello to all the parents visiting, since Parent’s Weekend coincides with this event.

For our sportier new students, a fun, safe and tasty tradition is the throwing of tortillas at soccer games.  UCSB soccer is something we’re rather proud of, and we toss tortillas to show our approval of our team.  This hallowed ritual requires only a tortilla and a good throwing arm, so prepare accordingly for your next game.

Lastly, there’s Halloween.  Again, like the Great Pumpkin, Halloween is ridiculous, looked upon with childlike wonder, and brings people together.  It’s also a time of rampant crime and the bad kind of debauchery with too many people in too small of a space, in too few clothes with too few inhibitions and too few happy endings.  Halloween is an experience and a tradition, but it’s not the wonderland you may have heard of.  It’s a disaster in the making every year, and utterly unforgettable, assuming you can remember any of it.