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Commentary: Privatized Parties, Eroding Cliffs and Greek Life Takeover Made Deltopia ‘23 a Flop

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

By Ewa Cook

UCSB Correspondent

Deltopia 2023 is being widely panned on campus and the streets of Isla Vista this week -- its wide-open, free-form spirit deflated by profit-seeking party hosts and overweening Greek types.

Not to mention the landlord surveillance drones.

The highly anticipated, and utterly unsanctioned, annual street party that brings out thousands of people to Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista took place last Saturday. Unfortunately, the party failed to meet many students' extraordinarily high expectations, and the word that kept coming up about Deltopia in after-action reviews was “flop.”

"My friends and I are calling it Floptimus Prime,” said Michelle Story, a third-year UCSB student.

“It was way too overcrowded, there were just too many people this year," she added. “I had a lot more fun at the parties last year because I was not getting actively trampled.”

Fourth year student Rosie Luera described the event as "absolutely insane -- there were so many people that it was no longer a matter of dancing, it was a matter of standing without falling.

“A lot of parties were more open and inclusive last year, and you were able to actually talk with people," Luera said in an interview.

Cashing in. Perhaps the sharpest criticism of this year’s Deltopia was the appearance of monetized parties.

“Poppin,” an online party platform run by UCSB alumni and current students, offered a $35 ticket for a “Poppin 4-Party Pass Deltopia” – a kind of late-stage capitalism development that outraged many students, for whom Deltopia has always been an event "for the people."

Other Isla Vista party platforms took to Instagram and other social media platforms to share their frustrations: “We are sad to see groups attempting to charge for Deltopia as it’s traditionally been a communal event,” said music producers from Isla Vista Underground.

Erosion uneasiness. The winter’s torrential rains caused a different, if related, problem.

For nearly two decades, the majority of open Deltopia parties took place in the backyards of beachfront properties rented by students. Months of unprecedented levels of rainfall, however, caused erosion beneath oceanside patios.

This led some homeowners to extremes in monitoring party attendance. One of the most popular oceanfront party houses– known to students as ‘Ganja’ - planned to host an event, but the property owner announced that there would be drones overhead to help them make sure the crowd stayed small – and ensure the cliff did not collapse.

No partying allowed in the backyard? No problem. Event organizers simply opted to move the party to Ganja’s driveway.

Members only. Aside from Ganja, many other of Del Playa’s oceanfront properties are satellite houses for fraternities and sororities – an establishment faction that represents perhaps 10 percent of the undergraduate student body.

On Saturday, a number of "frat bros" limited female attendance at their parties to "sorority girlies," thwarting the efforts of apostate women to get in.

The combination of Greek elitism, price-gouging, and landlord land use concerns not only disappointed many students with the lack of accessible parties, but also kept thousands wandering aimlessly around the streets – which may have contributed to the higher-than-usual number of medical emergency and law enforcement calls.

The Sheriff's Department, in its annual statistical review, reported the issuance of 151 citations and 23 arrests over Deltopia weekend. This compares to last year's totals of 34 citations and four arrests.

Images: When the landlord restricted access to the backyard at the party house known as "Ganja," organizers moved the celebration to the driveway; Security guards stood outside one of the paid parties, tasked with allowing only ticket holders to enter the venue; Kendall Kenyon, a third-year UCSB student, popped a bottle of champagne to kick off the festivities early Saturday morning (Aaron Martinez photos).

Newsmakers intern Ewa Cook, a third-year Communication major and Professional Writing minor at UCSB, is an aspiring EMT who is interested in the intersection of healthcare and journalism.

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