I’m sure all of you heard about the horrible mass killing which took place in Isla Vista last weekend.
Isla Vista is a small, crowded, neighborhood adjacent to (but not a part of) UC Santa Barbara.
I’m a UCSB alumni and I spent a few years of my life living in Isla Vista.
My daughter is a recent UCSB graduate and she also spent her college years living in Isla Vista.
To say the killings hit “close to home” is putting it mildly.
Since the tragedy, the news has been filled nonstop with a lot of information,
And a lot of misinformation.
Some of the comments I’ve heard and read have really bothered me.
I find I have a lot I want to say.
First and foremost, my heart BREAKS for the families of the victims.
I can’t fathom the pain they’re in.
They’re living every parent’s worst nightmare.
Many of you will recall, it was not long ago when my son (while attending Wake Forest University) was the target of a student who had a psychotic break.
It was a terrifying experience for my son and our entire family.
That particular student, after way too much hemming and hawing by WFU, eventually tried to abduct my son’s girlfriend, was caught by police, and put on an involuntary psyche hold.
I guess what I’m saying is the recent situation in Isla Vista “hit home” for me for many different reasons.
Now, I’d like to tell you a little about Isla Vista.
Many years ago, Isla Vista was a small town/village of almost entirely UCSB students.
It was not, and is still not, owned by UCSB.
UCSB does own on-campus housing/dorms, but they do not run/own/control the town of Isla Vista.
IV is a town of apartments/houses and shops and restaurants owned by, and run by, private individuals.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s Isla Vista students were very active in the “hippie” movement.
(This, by the way, was ALSO the case at the vast majority of universities in our country at the time.)
In any case, Isla Vista (better known as “IV” to locals) seemed to get stuck with a permanent “party” stigma as a result.
I’m sure being a beach town has only magnified this perception.
If we flash forward to the current decade and year, a lot has changed.
The often rundown housing in IV still exists along with a few newer buildings.
The main mode of transportation in IV continues to be beach “cruiser” bicycles.
UCSB has become one of the top universities in the country.
Students dare not think about applying unless they’ve got a gpa OVER 4.0 and a plethora of AP class credits.
(There may be an occasional exception made for athletes and/or random other university needs.)
Isla Vista is no longer a community of just UCSB students.
A lot of Santa Barbara City College students (SBCC is about a half hour away) have decided it’s “cool” to live there too.
For that matter, a lot of college-aged people, whether they’re students or not, are attracted to the idea of housing with close beach proximity.
The town is now a huge mix of people – some UCSB students, some SBCC students, some non-students, and some families/individuals who have settled there due to available housing.
I’m explaining this to help non-locals understand the current setting of Isla Vista.
There is an active and very visible police force in Isla Vista.
On weekends, when “outsiders” often show up attempting to “crash” college parties, the number of officers is increased even further.
I felt it was important to give you a feel for the town itself before I discuss (in upcoming posts) the actual tragedy from last weekend.
One of the first reporter questions I heard posed to the Santa Barbara police was something along the lines of,
“What does this say about Isla Vista from the riots in the sixties to this incident?”
I’ve never heard such a ridiculous question.
Students rioted in the late 60’s (or was it the early 70’s)?
A pscychopath (who, by the way, was NOT a UCSB student) went on a random killing spree last weekend.
The two have nothing to do with each other.
There is no “pattern” there.
There is no cause and effect relationship.
One person said, “Maybe this will make Isla Vista safe.”
Isla Vista has been as safe as any other college town.
(Yes, bad stuff happens there sometimes … mostly small robberies of iPods/phones when people leave their doors unlocked.)
I’m not saying Isla Vista is a perfect town.
It’s a college town and it has college town problems.
In recent years, an influx of non UCSB residents has increased some of those problems.
Isla Vista was not the cause of last weekend’s tragedy.
The cause of last weekend’s tragedy was Elliot Rodger.
(Just as Adam Lanza was the cause of the Sandy Hook tragedy.)
In fact, if anything, kudos to Santa Barbara and the Isla Vista police officers are deserved.
Elliot Rodger said he had every intention of “slaughtering” many more people.
It’s amazing he was stopped as quickly as he was … just six minutes after police dispatch received the first call.
No, the problem is not Isla Vista.
The problem is bigger and scarier than that.
The problem is with the Adam Lanza’s and the Elliot Rodger’s of our world –
And our apparent inability, as a society, to come up with a solution to stop them.
** Click here to read Isla Vista Shooting, Part II – The Blame Game **