From spring breakers to law breakers

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The general idea of spring break is an escape from the pressures of classes, books and essays. How people choose to celebrate this hiatus has gotten out of hand. Riots are breaking out, property is being damaged and lives are placed at risk. College parties are getting out of control.

Deltopia, formally known as Floatopia, is an annual social event hosted in Isla Vista, Calif. A tradition that started a little over 10 years ago. This spring break day party has grown to be one of the most popular college events in the nation, gathering students from University of California, Santa Barbara to students from out of state.

This year’s Deltopia was different. According to the Santa Barbara Independent, there was a staggering attendance of roughly 15,000 college students and the party was out of control from the get-go.

“The crowds of people were almost too much to comprehend,” sophomore Connor McKinney said. “I have always heard it was the party of all parties but my first-hand experience tells me it is a chaotic and alcohol-fueled ride of debauchery.”

The day’s events consisted of the usual: intoxicated students roaming the streets in almost nothing but board shorts and bikinis, balcony parties and music loud enough to damage ear-drums. As the sun set, calling the party to a close, the party-goers of Isla Vista had the bright idea to keep the party alive.

The crowds got unruly when a campus officer arrested someone who had hit him with a backpack full of alcohol. Disagreement and anger were expressed when people began throwing bottles, rocks and bricks at officers. This escalated to stop signs being taken down, cars and personal property being destroyed, and fires being ignited in the middle of the street.

Santa Barbara native and current University of California, Santa Barbara senior Jack Sharkey said this type of behavior was bound to occur.

“A huge number of drunk people almost guaranteed to start some kind of trouble,” Sharkey said. “I think that banning all music from playing was a poor choice on the city’s part. It put a limitation on house parties and resulted in more drunk people roaming the streets.”

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, law enforcement began to mediate the situation through brute force, using pepper spray and tear gas.

“The tear gas was brutal since I experienced it,” sophomore Liona Barrett said. “Since a majority of the people were drunk, they saw the tear gas not as harm, but as a game. They would continually run back to the gas. Personally knowing people that got hit by the bullets, they all saw it as a game to mess with the cops.”

Was law enforcement’s means of handling the situation out of hand and a bit exaggerated? Many seem to disagree.

“Riots are hard to contain if you are in an area with a bunch of intoxicated individuals,” Barrett said.

The SWAT team was soon called to the scene and rubber bullets were used to control the crowd of the wild party goers.

“Riots, in my opinion, are hard to prevent,” McKinney said. “A riot in my experience moves in a rather exponential way, escalating to alarmingly violent outcomes. In this type of venue, I’m surprised this type of response was not already commonplace.”

College parties and traditions are part of what make these years of young adult life memorable, if one can even remember anything. But the uncontrollable behavior that is present at events like Deltopia is ruining the fun for not only current students, but future college kids looking to enjoy the stereotypical college life.

Jessica Escalante, a Santa Barbara local and sophomore currently attending Santa Barbara City College, agrees that Deltopia is harmful to the place that she calls home.

“According to the Santa Barbara Police Department, 91 percent of the arrests were not UCSB students, which means that many of them were from out of town,” Escalante said. “These people who came into Santa Barbara were coming ready to party hard, not care for the area and did not respect the community and got out of hand.”

Are Deltopia and other college traditions even worth it anymore?

“I do think Deltopia got out of hand this year, but I don’t think it’s going to cease to exist,” sophomore Genesis Rodriguez said. “I think [college events] should continue because it’s a tradition and it’s pretty inevitable to stop a large group of students completely.”

It is completely acceptable to participate in such merrymaking, but people have to understand that there are laws and these laws are meant to be followed. People need to be more aware of the consequences that come from having such rude and disgusting behavior. It seems that respect for people and property has been forgotten and college kids are giving adults and authorities the right to call them immature and out of control.

It is unnecessary to paint such an image and garner this ghastly reputation. Maybe this chaotic turn of events is a much needed wakeup call.

“They should be able to take place, but if riots such as these and deaths occur, it is acceptable for the police to shut it down,” Barrett said. “But one night of partying isn’t worth someone’s life.”

 

Alexa Datuin
Staff Writer
Published April 16, 2014