Isla Vista was once home to one of the craziest Halloween parties in all of America. During this time, Isla Vista — already plentiful with parties and filled streets on any regular Friday night — was amped-up far beyond its usual parties. Tens of thousands of people had been known to migrate into the town, commonly from other colleges and universities.
However, a series of ordinances and restrictions put into place during Halloween, fear of costly tickets, and increased police personnel have all but killed what was once one of the top Halloween party destinations in California. Laws such as Festival Ordinance, which threatens anyone who is playing loud music past 6 p.m. with a ticket worth hundreds of dollars, serve as effective deterrents to anyone thinking of breaking the peace.
In addition, there is a noticeable increase in police presence within Isla Vista the night of Halloween, even with the increasingly small number of disturbances. To go one step further in discouraging outside guests, dorm security rises drastically from Halloweekend up until to the day itself, with miles of fencing placed down El Colegio Road and around Santa Catalina Residence Hall.
While widely disliked, I believe a lot of these measures are necessary. Thousands of outsiders entering a town just to party can have a number of consequences. It brings potentially dangerous people into an environment filled with not only students, but also the families in Goleta and the surrounding areas of Isla Vista.
Even apart from the obvious problems that thousands of intoxicated college students in a densely populated area can cause, other issues arose in the past as well. Many of these people came into town with no place to spend the night and, after a day of drinking and partying, often found whatever patch of land was convenient, which created new problems in itself.
However, I.V. is far from the wild landscape it used to be during Halloween. The thousands of people that used to migrate into Isla Vista are no longer coming. Yet the laws, personnel, and fences are still put in place to prevent that level of disruption from happening again. Anyone who’s been around Santa Catalina recently can tell you what a prison it looks like.
Festival Ordinance laws ensure that partying is even less likely than on any other ordinary weekend. Not to mention any college student that actually gets issued a ticket will rarely have the funds to properly pay it. KEYT-TV, Santa Barbara’s local news channel, had even reported that the, “number of medical transports was lower than a typical weekend in Isla Vista.”
While the lingering reputation of Halloween parties hasn’t fully vanished, it is clear that thousands of people are no longer migrating into Isla Vista to enjoy their Halloween. So why after years of drastically decreased activity, do the same restrictions take place?
Party culture is a part of UCSB, and it’s something that is here to stay. There is a way to control the safety of the people of Isla Vista and Goleta alike without completely neutering Halloween to what it is today. Halloween should be a fun event, and while university-run programs help facilitate those who don’t wish to party, the option to do so should also be there.