The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC reacts to missing student Brianna Denison

Walking towards West Campus, trudging across the bridge and down the stairs to the Communications Lab is undoubtedly a wearisome chore.

But for City College student Aaron Hasnain, entering the lab is a bittersweet reminder of something that is missing.

Usually greeted with a familiar smile and a hug, Hasnain knows when he opens the doors his friend Brianna Denison will not be sitting at the front desk.

“Whenever I go into the lab, it’s very sad knowing she is not there,” Hasnain said.

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Twenty-four days ago, second-year City College student Brianna Denison was abducted from a friend’s home in Reno, Nevada.

Last seen around 4 a.m. on Jan. 20 wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt, the Reno Police Department described the kidnapping suspect as a white male, approximately 28 to 40-years-old, taller than 5 feet 6 inches with an “innie” belly button, “shaved pubic region, a light covering of hair on his arms, and facial hair about a quarter to a half an inch long below his chin.”

“I know people say this all the time, but she’s such a sweet, nice girl,” said Kaylie Hartje, a student who worked in the Communications lab with Denison last semester. “She’s the kind of friend who if you didn’t talk for a few days, she would make a point to call you.”

Referred to by loved ones as “Bri” or “Brizzle,” the psychology major is described by friends as “quirky,” “strong-willed,” and “super bubbly.”

Roommate and fellow City College student Ali Weiss met Denison last year when they were suitemates at the Fontainebleu dorms in Isla Vista.

Both beginning new chapters of their lives in the sunny seaside town, Weiss said Denison and their suitemates spent all of their time together.

“We are each others’ family,” Weiss said. “We’ve had millions of memories together.”

An aspiring child psychologist, Denison took an early childhood education class last semester and worked at the Kinko’s Early Learning Center where she spent 135 hours doing activities with children and observing their progress throughout the semester.

“She is really good at building relationships with children,” said Assistant Professor Julie Smith. “She seems to just love giving back.”

A DNA sample was found at the site of Denison’s disappearance that has been linked to two other “sexually motivated attacks” made against University of Nevada, Reno students, reported the Reno-Gazette Journal last week.

Currently there are 3,000 backlogged DNA samples at the Washoe County Crime Laboratory from previous sex offenders. About $150,000 is needed to analyze the samples that may match Denison’s abductor.

The Reno-Gazette Journal said that as of Feb. 7, donations for the analysis reached around $70,000.

According to the Official Brianna Information Site-the Web site “dedicated to her safe return”­-donations can be made to the Bring Bri Back Foundation to help fund search operations.

The site provides an address to send checks, information about how to volunteer, and the latest news updates.

The Circus, Circus Hotel & Casino in Reno has become the search headquarters for Denison, where the entire community has rallied to bring Denison home, said Nicole Bridges, Reno High School graduate and friend of Denison.

“There are posters everywhere,” Bridges said. “In malls, on billboards and even lit up on casino screens.”

In honor of Denison’s favorite color, Bridges said that everyone in Reno is wearing a blue ribbon as a “constant reminder.”

In response to the disappearance of Denison, City College has activated the campus Psychological Incident Response Team to counsel affected students, faculty and staff.

“We’ve had a lot of faculty and students come in,” said Susan Broderick, the Director of Student Health Services and member of the PIRT team. “It brings up a lot of safety issues within one’s self.”

PIRT counseling is available by appointment or drop-in basis at the Health and Wellness office located in room SS-170 in the East Campus Student Services building.

A candlelight vigil was also held on campus as what was described by Superintendent-President John Romo as a “very moving and important event.

“It’s just a terrible situation,” Romo said. “We’re hoping for the best for her and her family.”

For more information, visit or the “Find Bri” Facebook group.

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