Monday, October 15

Death of UCSB students should spark awareness on our own campus


Recognizing, reporting odd behavior could prevent tragedies

Jones is a second-year political science student.

By Andrew Jones


As students may have heard, one of our sister UC campuses, UC
Santa Barbara, experienced a great tragedy a little over a week ago
late Friday night. Five students were run down by a vehicle racing
through the student housing area of Isla Vista, four dying
immediately and the fifth remaining in critical condition.

This incident did not register too deeply with me over the
weekend. Sadly, we hear far too many stories of wild, random
violence to possibly emotionally invest ourselves in every single
one. But Monday television news coverage of the incident included a
shot panning over the makeshift memorials set up along Sabado Tarde
Road, the site of the carnage.

I suddenly recognized a face. One of the four killed was
Christopher Divis ““ a classmate of mine from Rancho Buena
Vista High School. While Chris was not a close friend, he was also
not simply a face to me. At our high school, a fairly small group
of serious students tended to repeatedly end up in honors classes
together. Chris and I were often in these classes.

So it was not simply surreal to see Chris’ face staring
out from the photographs set up at the memorial ““ it was
sickening.

It would be inexcusable to let Chris, or any of the other three
who were cut down far too early in their lives, go unremembered. He
might not have been a UCLA student, but people who cared about him
can be found in more places than just Santa Barbara.

Chris was a memorable person to me. I will never forget his
unique take on the drudgery of high school life. His main passions
were Japanese anime, the television show “The Simpsons”
and graphic arts. “The Simpsons is where our interests
intersected. He and I would often sit around during breaks in 12th
grade history, riffing on great lines and moments from various
episodes.

Each person has unique talents and worth, so I will not hold
Chris up as more worthy of remembrance than any other victim of
random violence. But I will remember him as a person of unusual
talent and intelligence. Chris had chosen UCSB after being offered
a full-ride scholarship, and in the two years since graduation, had
progressed to junior standing in the difficult mechanical
engineering major.

To use the old cliche, his whole life was in front of him. His
death leaves a void for so many of his classmates and friends.

Inevitably, we all seek to assign meaning for an untimely death.
The fact that there was no apparent motive for the crime other than
chemical-induced rage does not mean that no lesson can be
learned.

I think, if nothing else, that this catastrophe should remind
all college students to take blatantly self-destructive behavior
seriously. Many people blew off David Attias as just “Crazy
Dave.” But any one student shocked by his behavior (and many
who were have now come out of the woodwork) should realize that
speaking up about his threatening behavior might well have saved
four lives.

The picture of Attias now coming to light is disturbing. I will
never understand why no one thought enough of him to speak to an
authority figure. One girl told a CBS reporter on KNX-1070 that, in
effect, Attias had stalked her for a while, so she wasn’t
surprised to hear that he had done such a thing. If indeed she had
been stalked, why was Attias still attending UCSB?

And look at how other residents described Attias to The
Associated Press ““ he reportedly would “barge into
rooms, follow people into elevators for companionship and invite
himself into dining groups at the cafeteria.” And the UCSB
Daily Nexus notes one girl knew of his “history with drug
abuse and behavioral problems,” and that he had spent time in
a drug and behavioral rehabilitation program in Vermont.

Erratic behavior, which apparently also included doing hard
drugs, was apparently part of Attias’ new life at UCSB. In
almost any other town, Attias would have stood out like a sore
thumb. But because of “live and let live” attitudes in
the Isla Vista community, there was no one to report his downward
path until it was already too late.

So please, if you know someone who’s using hard drugs,
someone who everyone on the floor thinks is “weird and
creepy” or someone who has exhibited genuinely threatening
behavior, speak up to someone who can do something about it.

Especially on a college campus, it is imperative to build a
community of concern, instead of allowing a community of
“personal freedoms.”

You might think that its uncool to tell an authority figure
about another person’s self-destructive behavior ““ but
as we saw Friday night, innocent people suffer the consequences of
your silence.

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  • Vance Decker

    “So please, if you know someone who’s using hard drugs, someone who everyone on the floor thinks is “weird and creepy” or someone who has exhibited genuinely threatening behavior, speak up to someone who can do something about it.”

    Spoken like a true idiot. This is the dumbest probably NSA funded crap I’ve read so far. If you think someone is “creepy” then you should report them? Really?!

    You moron fascists should all be shot dead. How is that for creepy?

  • Allen

    This article is garbage. Mr. Attias was found to had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and at the time of the killings, was not on medication. He did test positive for marijuana, but that was deemed to not be a significant factor as it was taken days earlier.

    And no, bi-polar disorder is not caused by hard drug use, either. Its an inherited mental illness, not one that readily acquired.

    Only when Attias was committed to the state hospital was his disorder finally brought under control once again—yet, there is always the issue with medication compliance once one is back on their own.