Irish students with work visas are unwelcome in many places in California this summer because of misbehavior.
Particular problems have occurred in San Diego and Santa Barbara, where the reputations of Irish students are terrible because of numerous incidents of drinking and vandalism.
This summer alone, Irish students are said to have caused $20,000 in damages to a resort in Santa Barbara.
William Sanchez, property manager of the Breakpointe apartment complex in Isla Vista. told the Irish Times that housing Irish students is “the worst experience ever. Last Tuesday night there was a couple of grand worth of damage done. Some Irish students were throwing microwaves into a swimming pool. It’s been going on for years.
“There’s a fine line between partying and destroying, and these guys just show up and destroy things. It’s causing a bad name across Isla Vista.
Nobody wants them here – a few Irish visitors are ruining it for everyone.”
Santa Barbara’s sheriff department says there have been extensive and continued complaints about irish siudents.
“Many of the arrests of young Irish people relate to vandalism, fighting and public drunkenness,” says a spokesman. “For example, we had a situation last week where three young Irish males were arrested after kicking in the door of an apartment. One of those men was caught wearing only a pair of briefs, and all of them were drunk. This is a common occurrence.”
Brian Cassidy (23) from Co Kildare went on a J1 visa to Santa Barbara in the summer of 2009.
“Irish people in Santa Barbara have a very bad reputation,” he says. “A lot of the American students, especially the guys, are very hostile towards the Irish. They will not let Irish people into their parties. Landlords don’t want to have Irish people in their apartments.”
Another student Jenni Skelly (20). says the bad reputation has meant that the Irish who want to work cannot get jobs.
“The Americans have the opinion of us Irish that we’re crazy and drink a lot, but they also think that we damage property and disturb the peace, when in fact it is a slight few that give us this bad reputation,” she says.
In an article last summer, the Daily Nexus, the local campus student newspaper, reported: “Isla Vista residents worry that the Irish visitors are both disrespectful and destructive . . . and associate the Irish people with loud partying and damaged apartments.”
According to the article, Irish students destroyed the apartments where they were living and left “kitchen garbage in the swimming pool, tomato sauce and vomit on the stairs, couches on the bike racks, cigarettes and beer cans in the pool area and even pasta in the washing machine."
Dearbhla O’Brien, commercial director of student travel company Usit, told The Irish Times the company has never received any negative reports.
“Irish students are generally very well received, especially in the resorts where Americans spend their holidays,” she says. “Irish students are well liked in many areas of America and large numbers have been going to the same resorts each year because of the friendly atmosphere.”