The Mark Side of UCSB: UCSB Environment Switches at Night

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I once saw an episode of the Adventures of Pete & Pete that changed the way I looked at the world. Little Pete, frustrated at going to bed at 9 o’clock, gathered a bunch of friends together and attempted to break the world record for going the most days without sleep. All the fantastic occurrences the children witnessed after the sun went down inspired my curiosity and eventual love of the night. Ever since coming to this university, I haven’t found a better time to be nocturnal. With the more pleasant weather of Spring Quarter, staying up and out at night becomes all the more irresistible. So let me take a moment to tell you about something I’d like to call “the dark side of UCSB.”

I’m not talking about the parties or barhopping going on around Isla Vista and the surrounding area of Santa Barbara. I’m talking about an activity as simple as loitering around campus after dark. Once the sun goes down, the campus transforms into a completely different environment. Raccoons, skunks and other animals replace the spaces previously occupied by students. I’ve actually managed to catch stray dogs on two separate occasions while strolling past the lagoon. With only animals and the occasional wandering night crawler, it feels like the entire campus is at your disposal.

I can think of many interesting sights I happened to witness during my time here. Freshman year I sat at the edge of campus point with my date and we watched the lunar eclipse along with other curious stargazers. Sophomore year I stood with my friends on the beach near Manzanita Village and watched a spectacular offshore lightning storm silhouette the oilrigs on the horizon. While these events don’t happen every night, they’re certainly more interesting and less of an eyesore than the gauntlet of student groups I go by past the Arbor.

Speaking of eyesores, if you happen to be wandering campus this Sunday around midnight, you might bear witness to the annual construction of Associated Students election signs. Though they seem like nothing more than beer pong tables garishly painted over with bright colors and cheesy catch phrases, these makeshift structures accurately represent the facade that is student government. They signal the beginning of a paper storm that coats every free space on the walls of the university and I.V. Apparently this method of campaigning is preferred over reaching out to the constituents.

Unfortunately, there are worse things I stumble upon at night. I inevitably come into contact with students journeying back and forth from the residence halls to I.V. I was skating past the UCen during finals week when I noticed a strangely shaped sign next to the flower stand. I got off my board and realized that it was a student hunched over the ground. She didn’t respond to my shouts so I walked over to see if she was okay. She passed out on the floor just as I noticed the vomit hidden by the hair covering her face. Luckily, a couple Community Service Officers happened to ride by and they were able to help the girl out.

Still, witnessing the dark side of UCSB brings a better understanding of the campus. The eternal flame isn’t exactly eternally lit, the garbage trucks furiously take full advantage of the open driving area and a locked out student drunk off his ass will punch through a glass door to get back inside the dorm. I encourage anyone to give this nocturnal perspective a shot. You’ll encounter nuances about the university that you’d otherwise never see in the daytime.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla is our UCSB Batman, roaming the campus at night.

Posted by Batalla at 9:32 PM  


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