News in Brief: Feb. 8 to Feb. 14

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CAMPUS

UCPD reported that a UCSB student passed away on campus on Sunday in what appears to be a suicide. Police responded to a call at Santa Cruz Residence Hall in the afternoon and at approximately 8:30 p.m. confirmed that the student had passed away. On Monday, police identified the student as 20-year-old Weiwei Liu, a Chinese international student. UCPD and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office are currently conducting an investigation regarding the death.

The Isla Vista Party is the newest student political party at UCSB, born from the idea that Associated Students has become an “extracurricular” organization working alongside the university, according to party chair Nawar Nemeh, a former A.S. on-campus senator and third year history of public policy major. We’d like to refocus A.S.’s work on the issues that the students care the most about, [including] tuition, housing, food security,” Nemeh said. He stated that the party’s name came about from the idea of connecting Isla Vista to campus. The party aims to ensure that A.S. and the new Community Services District keep Isla Vista residents in mind in the upcoming years.

ISLA VISTA

Santa Barbara Judge Donna Geck ruled on Friday against the owners of the Capri Apartments, who requested that the court case of the Isla Vista shooting of May 23, 2014, be dismissed. The first three victims of the Isla Vista tragedy—UCSB students George Chen, Chen Yuan “James” Hong, and Weihan “David” Wang—were killed by SBCC student Elliot Rodger at the Capri Apartments on Seville Rd. The victims’ families’ attorney David Angeloff claimed that Santa Barbara authorities had previous knowledge of Rodger’s mental instability and therefore put Hong’s and Wang’s lives at risk when assigning Rodger as their roommate, according to KEYT. A trial date will be set when the case returns to court on April 7.

COUNTY

Santa Barbara county is currently pursuing a $3 million grant—utilized through Prop. 47, which reclassifies a range of felonies as misdemeanors—to divert criminals with mental illnesses to alternative programs. The pilot program would aim to reduce incarceration by diverting individuals with substance abuse disorders or severe mental illnesses to community-based services rather than serving time in jail, according to a county press release. The state would distribute the grant over the course of roughly three years if it is given to the county, starting in June.

Santa Barbara resident Kathryn Thomas was sentenced to three years probation last week after pleading guilty last month to housing 23 dogs in her home, the Santa Barbara Independent reports. Local authorities discovered Thomas breeding Australian shepherds and Jack Russell terriers in April after paramedics reported smelling fecal odor from the sidewalk outside the home. They found that several of the dogs were malnourished, their water bowls were dirty, and the house was a mess. Thomas stated in police interviews that she owned and co-owned most of the dogs and displayed the rest on dog shows. The dogs were rescued shortly after.

NATIONAL

Storm damage to California’s Oroville Dam—the nation’s tallest dam, which provides drinking water, hydroelectricity, and flood control—caused the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents on Sunday. Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency order late Sunday. Although officials stated that the immediate threat has passed, the dam’s capacity to hold and discharge water will continue to be tested during these next two months of the rainy season, and repairs to the dam cannot begin until after the area dries in late spring. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates the federal aid request to be $162 million and is currently working on finding additional shelters for evacuees who are unable to return to their homes for the time being.

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