Interview by Marissa Perez, Advertising Director
How does the work of the EVPLA affect the student population, i.e., what should students know about the EVPLA, what does the EVPLA do on their behalf, etc.?
The EVPLA is the student’s voice when it comes to Isla Vista and the surrounding community. The EVPLA functions as the one of many central connecting pieces between the greater Santa Barbara community, our UCSB campus, and the varied (and oftentimes overlooked/underrepresented) populations within Isla Vista. Out of many, the role of EVPLA that resonates with me the most is the opportunity to advocate for change when community members have nowhere else to go. In my opinion, an EVPLA that is both dynamic and proactive will reach out to residents, acknowledge their needs, and respond to those needs appropriately and swiftly.
Students should know that the EVPLA will have their back both by facilitating coalitions between community members in Isla Vista and demanding support from UCSB administrators and Santa Barbara County, in pursuit of achieving a vision that is common to all members of our community. I make these statements as contributions to our collective definition of community leadership–the priorities of the people aren’t always the same as the priorities of AS, the folks atop our UCSB administration, or the EVPLA herself.
What are the biggest issues that the EVPLA faces next year, and how do you plan to solve them?
One issue that the community has ALWAYS faced is housing. Tenants are faced with nothing but unaffordable, run-down housing options and can be completely manipulated by landlords. I’ve been working with past EVPLA Housing Coordinator, Hannah Pierce, on a website called RateMyIVLandLord.org. This website will be the FIRST comprehensive list of all the landlords in Isla Vista, where residents can comment on their living experiences, leave written feedback on their landlords, and browse characteristics of properties such as monthly rent, legal occupancy, and security deposit cost–the things we as students really care about!
The EVPLA office must also take an active role in shaping the social climate of safety in Isla Vista. In so many spaces, folks speak on their experiences with sexual violence just walking down the streets of IV. These same folks are also targets of racial and homophobic offenses, and in some cases, police brutality. Safety in IV is a multi-faceted issue and the EVPLA office MUST demand institutionalized changes in terms of how we educate our community, law enforcement, and administrators.
As EVPLA, I will advocate for increased signage throughout IV such that students and community members alike may readily utilize and benefit from crucial services including emergency phone numbers and resources such as the Rape Crisis Line, CSO Escort Line, and the Counseling and Psychological services line. My efforts will be grounded in achieving more comprehensive student diversity, Safe Zones, and a re-envisioning of the sensitivity training that law enforcement officers (both UC and IVFP) currently receive. In collaboration with Take Back the Night and DP’s Presidential candidate Navkiran Kaur, I will create a “Safe Space” in the new Pardall Center; this will be a space open Fridays and Saturday nights for survivors and folks who prefer an alternative to IV nightlife. My vision for addressing local issues is centered on DIRECTLY supporting the priorities of the communities organizing around issues such as the ones mentioned above, all while holding myself accountable to not overstepping privileges, developing upon my own sense of activism, and validating the resistance efforts of the communities we live within and serve.
Addressing the relationship between Isla Vista and campus/local administrative entities concerning Halloween and Deltopia has never been more important. The one word to describe the cause of the Deltopia riots is, in my opinion, MISCOMMUNICATION. The unfortunate occurrences of that weekend should not have been surprising, since IV has seen the installment of CCTV cameras coupled with run-around public explanations of their purpose, increased police presence, and the existing yet more strongly-enforced noise and Festival Ordinances. Information regarding new laws should NOT be posted to Facebook by law enforcement.
There needs to be greater community access to law enforcement and County representatives. As EVPLA, will demand more contact with our representatives, such as regular and highly publicized with County Board Supervisor Doreen Farr and IV Foot Patrol Lieutenant Rob Plaustino. While these officials have held office hours in IV, the EVPLA office needs to encourage greater community outreach to both students and community members.
I will recognize and will not invalidate those community members who do not feel safe working directly with the police. It is my responsibility to advocate for all communities and voices, and I will prioritize the safety and concerns of all members of Isla Vista.
What do you feel are your strongest personal or professional qualifications for this position?
My qualifications remain firmly grounded in my deep passion for community activism as well as my commitment to support ALL of the communities in Isla Vista. I’ve found that working for the vibrant and unique community of Isla Vista across the different roles I’ve held has been a learning experience unlike any other I’ve had. Currently, my position as Events Coordinator for the Isla Vista Community Relations Committee (IVCRC) has allowed me to connect with the different people and lifestyles in IV on such personal levels. This includes planning Pardall Carnival and Chilla Vista, as well as interacting with the IV Teen Center and IV Food Co-op.
We’ve actively partnered with local businesses, IV Elementary, various student organizations of different interests, Santa Barbara County, and IV Foot Patrol. The opportunities I’ve had to engage with these folks who have also been deeply vested in celebrating the unique community of Isla Vista have been amongst the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at UCSB.
During fall quarter of this year, I was able to directly serve and learn from IV residents through my work as a case manager within the Isla Vista Tenants Union. I first became involved in IVTU as a result of my reaction to the housing injustices I myself have experienced and learned of in Isla Vista. Upon hearing about the mass evictions of FAMILIES in Isla Vista, I was immediately drawn to the cause and felt that I had no choice but to do my best to address the issue head-on by becoming directly involved.
I knew I had to organize when it became more and more evident that folks in so many communities were skipping meals and struggling to pay rent. The revitalization of the Rate My Landlord project and the opportunity to connect with so many students and IV residents has been one of my greatest inspirations as an organizer at UCSB.
Working in so many different spaces and in partnership with different people has prepared me for the challenges of addressing Isla Vista issues. Given my experience, I’ve found that the ability to effectively partner with so many different communities is among the most important characteristics of an EVPLA. Alongside other vested individuals and organizations, I have built coalitions between underrepresented groups both on and off campus, as well as fostered relationships with administrators at UCSB and Santa Barbara County. I love this community! I recognize an effective EVPLA doesn’t ignore the differences of identity in Isla Vista. There can be no progress, justice, or solidarity without community.
What is one of the things you most hope to accomplish as EVPLA?
I mostly hope to partner with Santa Barbara County in order to foster a renewed interest and investment in the wellbeing of Isla Vista and its many residents. The community in Isla Vista is invested in many issues and in the experiences, culture, and long term future of IV. Through the connections and relationships I’ve built, I aim to provide the resources and support for communities to mobilize around the issues IV residents and students care most about. The power that the students and community members of Isla Vista hold is of great value; real change has been created by these populations and as EVPLA, I plan to support these groups through implementing progressive and advocacy-based solutions.
The gap that lies between Associated Students elected officials and the average student is an issue I’d like to tackle with all the Executive Offices. A greater push for outreach to those students in need, as well as heavier publicizing of the resources A.S. provides is the only way to ensure an enrichment of the community on campus and in Isla Vista. Everyone should have the opportunity to partner with the EVPLA office and benefit from the resources EVPLA provides. I will immediately respond to issues the Isla Vista community faces and ensure that no individual or community feels silenced. Through both community investment and collaborative action, I believe I can positively fulfill the role of EVPLA.
Why do you want to be EVPLA?
I want to be EVPLA because Isla Vista is my home. The learning and living I have since undergone here has been incomparable to those I’ve been subject to at any other point in my life. Isla Vista is the unique and beautiful place where students get their first apartments, children go to play after school, live bands play in the parks, and artists perform heartfelt Spoken Word. Isla Vista is where I discovered and became part of the communities which have inspired me to engage in community activism both on campus and in my neighborhood every single day. I want to be EVPLA because the change Isla Vista needs is for both communities I am a part of and communities I love to engage with. I want students to feel safe on this campus and in Isla Vista. I want communities to create projects and feel supported by the Associated Students that represents them. I want to be EVPLA because I have love for Isla Vista, love for my people, and I know that effective change and progress in Isla Vista starts with me.
Photo Courtesy of AS Elections Committee