It’s no secret why last Halloween’s Delirium and this weekend’s Warm Up concerts exist: to draw student enthusiasm and rowdiness away from partying and its subsequent effects and channel it into something safer and more constructive. However, Associated Students Program Board’s recent enthusiasm for throwing concerts that coincide with major Isla Vista partying events isn’t just about giving students more wholesome options for how to spend these boisterous days—it’s about protecting reputations.
Given the unsavory effects last school year’s Halloween and Deltopia had on the community and how they injured both IV and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s reputations, Program Board’s efforts are meant to diminish the celebrations that are most dangerous to the reputation of the university they’re associated with. These concerts are the latest—and potentially most effective—effort the university’s made to alter longstanding cornerstones of IV’s partying tradition. And it’s great.
The Delirium and Warm Up concerts and events like them are the best possible approach to making IV safer and preventing the town’s more lively celebrations from unfairly harming UCSB’s reputation. They allow the university to influence and shape the rowdiest aspects of Isla Vista lifestyle without directly interfering with or regulating how the town spends its leisure time. Rather than dilute IV’s distinct culture and lifestyle and absorb the town into the greater UCSB system—watering down students’ independence and unique ability to mold the community to their own needs and preferences in the process, these concerts preserve and even expand residents’ freedom to conduct themselves as they’d like.
The more often the university puts on such events, the more successful they’ll be in the future in drawing people away from the most harmful of Halloween and Deltopia practices. For example, the appearance of Young the Giant on campus will no doubt portray UCSB as a more attractive venue for other big names. Also, the more these events are put on, the more the university will figure out what is most effective in drawing students in. Rather than relying on the often-questionable practice and consequences of increasing police presence or exercising direct control over how IV conducts its business, these concerts preserve students’ ability to party and provide comparable alternatives while replacing much of the detrimental elements of wide-scale partying.
Among other efforts such as Associated Students’ AS in IV initiative and the recent report by the UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustees’ Advisory Committee on Isla Vista Strategies on how to make IV less embarrassing and more livable, Program Board’s recent efforts to put on high-end concerts likely represent the most effective, realistic, and practical approach. Bringing in more “mature adults” and families while simultaneously reducing the residential density of IV (as the Trustees’ report recommends) is never going to realistically happen; a proliferating police presence will only exacerbate distrust and drive harmful activity underground.
Putting on big concerts with a variety of activities geared toward student interests helps achieve many of the safety- and reputation-oriented goals the university and other local stakeholders have while not watering down the independence, lifestyle, and culture of IV. UCSB should play a role in the town its students call home and take steps to protect its own reputation, and it’s finally hitting the nail on the head by providing residents with high-end, constructive alternatives to wild partying.
Now if only these concerts could keep rent rates down as well…