Is UCSB’s Party School Reputation Fading?

Photo by Juan Gonzalez | Print Photo Editor

Tomas Palpallatoc

On Sept. 10, U.S. News’ education section revealed their ranking for “2019’s Top Public Colleges and Universities,” on which UCSB placed fifth overall and third in the UC system, only coming behind national and international juggernauts UCLA and UC Berkeley. This is only a small step up from the university’s previous position of eighth on last year’s list. However, this did not dampen the excitement for both students and administration.

The university displayed this achievement on the school Facebook page, exclaiming, “Movin’ on up, again! UC Santa Barbara has climbed into the top 5 on U.S. News and World Report‘s 2019 listing of top public national universities!” It is clear from this and other totings of the university’s laurels that UCSB wants to paint itself in a new light in an attempt to escape its reputation as a party school.

UCSB’s reputation as a party school has undergone a steady decline in previous years. From the death of the infamous I.V. Halloween, to the university’s heightened academic standards, to its expanding and plentiful opportunities for undergraduate research, there is no doubt that the school is seen in a different light than it was a decade ago.

However, any student who attends UCSB knows that partying is far from absent in the school’s culture. On the first Friday of the quarter, the streets of Isla Vista were filled with students who blared music loudly throughout the night. From the ever-present frat parties to the countless beer cans found in bushes the next day, the party has still not stopped in Isla Vista, even if UCSB is more than just a simple party school now. In fact, UCSB still placed 7th on the Princeton Review’s national party school ranking this year, retaking the top 10 spot it had lost the year prior.

This mixed reputation has always served as both a repellent and an attractor for prospective UCSB students. While some students dislike the notoriety of the party school image and think that the university’s academic prestige is lessened due to it, others are able to see past this and realize that, in reality, UCSB has quite a lot to offer to its students.

This fact, however, is lost on many people. I know that when I informed my relatives that I would be attending UCSB, many unenthusiastically responded with, “That’s….great.”

They didn’t seem to realize how much of a struggle it was to even be admitted to this school — a struggle any freshman this year could explain, as fall 2018 admissions were the most selective in campus history. The average GPA among incoming freshmen reached an all-time high of 4.28according to Andrea Estrada of The Current.

With all the changes UCSB is undergoing, it is clear that the character of the school is bound to change as well. However, the worst thing that university administration could do at this point would be to attempt to cover up the party culture that is present at UCSB. Doing so would be nothing but lying to prospective students.

It’s clear that UCSB’s party culture isn’t ending anytime soon. But what’s so great about the students of this university is that there’s more to us than our Friday nights. Students are back to studying by Saturday, even. Anyone who has walked through the dorms at night has passed by countless groups of students grinding out homework for the next day.

Just because Gauchos party hard doesn’t mean they can’t work hard as well, and it would be futile to ignore such a large part of student life. Both parts of UCSB are simply opposite sides of a coin, and without either, UCSB wouldn’t be the great school it already is.