Bethlehem “Betty” Ayalem, Candidate for External Vice President of Local Affairs

Interviewed by Annalise Domenighini

What experience do you have working in both the Isla Vista community and the broader Goleta and Santa Barbara area?

As an RA, I do a lot of programming to raise educational and different diversity issues within Isla Vista. I’d say the most successful program we had is trying to bridge the gap between foot patrol, law enforcement in Isla Vista and residents. I feed the homeless every other week with Community Affairs Board, and the houseless actually is one of the most impactful parties I’ve worked on in Isla Vista. I’m also co-chair for the sociology association and we focus a lot on houselessness and devote a whole quarter, this [spring] quarter to houselessness. I volunteer at the IV Teen Center and I really feel most comfortable in the capacity where there isn’t this huge bureaucratic role and politics involved where I’m able to have this very personal relationship with who I’m working with. That’s kind of increased my efforts and my desire to increase the communication between the office and Isla Vista community.

How will you work to get more students involved and aware of what your office is doing?

Something that I’ve decided that I will enact if elected is a mentorship/internship program. Given that the office has some smaller subset office positions which are great, I think that it’s very necessary to outreach to the first-year students especially. This position has a stigma of being held by an upperclassmen and then an upperclassman chooses its officers and they may or may not be upperclassmen as well but I definitely think that there’s a lack of outreach to first year students that there’s a great ambiguity historically when it comes to this office. I’m thinking anywhere from 25 to 20 students that have the ability to serve maybe 3-4 hours in the community on various projects of their choosing so that way they have access to the office, access to what the office does, and have the ability to convey to their friends that this actually exists and hopefully that will foster a desire for them to later on to work in the office if not be the person themselves, have them able to assist me in representing the needs of first year students as well.

What plans do you have to improve safety for LGBTQ students, students of color and other at risk students?

I feel like undergoing safe zone training as an RA was very beneficial to me and it really gives you insight into what these issues are and how to better handle them whether you’re an ally or part of the queer community. So safe zone training not only for residents of IV and UCSB students but also looking into getting business owners safe zone trained as well as IV Foot Patrol. I brought up the idea with Lt. Vuillemainroy and he’s open to it, especially since there have been cases of mishandling of females by police force and that’s something we’ve discussed and that is something that can’t be taken lightly and needs to be addressed, so that’s definitely a priority. I think it would be more possible to have little pockets and ensuring that these little pockets of space, whether it be the room on top of Grafikart now that IVTU will be moving to the loop, smaller pockets of space like this in which students of color and queer students can feel comfortable and safe.

Do you have any plans regarding dealing with the situation of parking in Isla Vista?

Yes. It’s been proposed to set up this parking permit situation in Isla Vista and to my knowledge there hasn’t been any student input in that matter, that students haven’t been asked whether or not they feel that this would be a great idea. Fortunately enough it doesn’t seem like this will actually be enacted within the next year, but if anything were to change in terms of parking I’d want again for students to be able to give their input as they are the owners of these motor vehicles and those who are looking for parking out there in Isla Vista. But, I’d like to push for greater accessibility and a wider range of different types of parking permits on campus so that students who live on campus and other students aren’t resorting to parking in Isla Vista to dodge the pretty large parking permit fee on our campus

Do you have any plans regarding dealing with Halloween in Isla Vista?

Halloween has gotten better in terms of numbers over the years. Lt. Ray believes, and I support, the “Keep It Local” campaign has helped in the reduction of out of state visitors, and that’s generally where the bulk of the problems with the police enforcement comes. As this office is responsible for affairs in Isla Vista I think it would be very fitting for the EVPLA office to have an alternative and very organized event in Isla Vista during Halloween.