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Throwback Thursday, Week 2: ‘Frats’ and ‘brats’

It should surprise absolutely no one that Greek life – especially discussions of its merits or lack thereof – has always been a lightning rod for student controversy.

Tuesday’s incident involving the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority should make that clear. But on this month 36 years ago, the Daily Bruin Viewpoint section, now known as Opinion, was inundated with a fistful of letters simply because a writer discussed her unpleasant run-in with fraternity rushers when her car broke down.

Staff writer Donna Prokop caught some flak for a column that was, admittedly, short on details and substance. Her only piece of evidence for fraternity misbehavior was being mistaken for a stripper; it was the peppering of insults toward the “stampeding hoard (sic)” of “low life” fraternity brothers that did her in.

Prokop was criticized for her gross over-generalization of fraternity life, but the responses, too, were lacking. Some were statements of #NotAllFraternities. “Many fraternity guys retain a strangely human capacity for warmth and kindness,” wrote biochemistry student Steven Merino. Others responded with a dose of casual sexism. Four fraternity brothers concluded their letter thusly: “We don’t really think it was the car that overheated.” Alpha Epsilon Pi member Steven Morris accused Prokop of stereotyping men and responded in kind, writing that if she were a man, “she might have had the intellectual ability and instinct that would have led her to check her radiator level every so often.”

This somewhat minor and quite trifling exchange between Bruins is a stark contrast to heavyweight criticisms of Greek life today. The critical discourse of fraternities and sororities has since shifted from elementary discussions about the artificiality of its members to serious analyses of how Greek life as an institution – not the individuals per se – perpetuates or sponsors sexist attitudes and practices de facto racial segregation.

Take, for example, The Atlantic’s lengthy investigation of how these once-scrappy brotherhoods and sisterhoods have become well-funded behemoths adept at avoiding legal culpability and intimately connected to the halls of American political power. In short, fraternities and sororities have ingrained themselves in American college life, and are more or less armed with the finances and the connections to stay this way.

Whether one wants to promote, reform or ban Greek life, the fact that these conversations – not whatever that was from 1979 – now consistently happen is a good thing.

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Throwback Thursday, Week 1: Parking Woes

This Thursday, we’re throwing it back to 25 years ago when Opinion – formerly known as Viewpoint – columnist Rebecca Stone listed parking options of varying inconvenience for her readers and explained UCLA’s complicated history with parking. From UCLA’s first parking lot in 1933 to a Daily Bruin article earlier that year claiming the university was growing at a rate that would soon require shuttles to herd students from their cars to class, Stone described UCLA’s inability to address its parking problem as demand exponentially grew.

“Before we can get on with the daily business of dealing with priority concerns, we must first find a place to park,” she concluded.

While the relationship between the university’s limited parking options and limited scope of priorities is tenuous at best, parking remains an obstacle in ensuring UCLA is an accessible public university. Parking is consistently difficult, if not impossible, to find, even for commuters, who make up a little over 25 percent of UCLA’s student body and are its biggest money-savers; after all, they can save thousands in rent, despite the hours lost traveling back and forth.

And while UCLA Transportation has developed options over the years, like the BruinBus and the UCLA Vanpool, and the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a citywide mobility plan, both promising to make your car less necessary, the battle for parking between faculty, staff, emeriti, volunteers, patients, visitors and, last of all – in both esteem and priority – students continues.

In short, parking problems at UCLA not only persist, but have only worsened since Stone wrote her column. The hustle of the students who left class early to avoid parking enforcement or made the hike from Westwood to campus in 1990 is nothing compared to the time and money students lose in the pursuit of parking today.

With week one in full swing, parked cars once again populate the space between the street and the sidewalk, even though their owners have risked and received $65 parking tickets in the past. In her column, Stone admitted that sometimes her $18 parking tickets – around $33 if you consider inflation – were a relief from constantly filling the meter with quarters.

Students with cars outnumber available parking spaces in and around campus and are engaged in bidding wars online for parking passes, street parking and even the dreaded tandem spaces. In Stone’s time, students shelled out $4 a day in Westwood’s lots or a quarter every eight minutes for metered parking spaces. But today, you can find quarterly parking permits going for up to $400 and rented residential parking spots for around $100 a month in UCLA’s Free & For Sale Facebook group.

Earlier this year, the Daily Bruin Editorial Board called for cheaper parking permits. Most recently, nearly 1,000 students who applied for parking passes on campus were waitlisted after UCLA cut the number of student parking permits by hundreds. Even commuter students who are fortunate enough to obtain a nearly $700 permit for the year from UCLA Transportation aren’t guaranteed to find a space once they make their way to campus.

Of course, there are only so many parking spaces UCLA can provide before it begins dominating the Westwood skyline or disrupting the Earth’s core, but the campus’ growth demands better planning, even retroactively.

Otherwise students might as well stay on the 405, catnap through the 9 a.m. traffic and crawl right past UCLA. No one goes to their morning classes anyway.

- Catherine Liberty Feliciano

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Campus news

‘Racist Bruin’ stickers used hashtags to bring light to oppression

On Monday, many editions of the Daily Bruin and their respective newsstands were emblazoned with a sticker titled “Racist Bruin” which was splashed across half the front page. The sticker contained visual and stylistic references to many of The Bruin’s normal sections, but instead of focusing on the paper, focused on what the authors argued were instances of inherent, normalized oppression at UCLA as a whole.

In the sticker’s manifesto, the authors said they stand in solidarity with a variety of movements, denoted by their hashtags. Below is an explanation of those hashtags.


The #UStired2 hashtag refers to a movement created last year in response to the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teacher’s College in Guerrero, a state of Mexico. The movement has taken particular interest in the perceived callousness of Mexican officials toward the disappeared – most poignantly represented by an incident in November, when Jesús Murillo Karam, the then-attorney general of the country, responded to a question about the students with “no más preguntas, ya me cansé” (Spanish for “No more questions, I am tired”).

The group has called on the U.S. government to cease international aid to Mexico, and to end the “Mérida Initiative,” a joint drug patrol and security agreement between the countries. The protesters – who dub this “Plan Mexico,” invoking a similar initiative undertaken in Colombia – claim that this agreement has done little to curb drug violence and smuggling, and instead props up a dishonest and corrupt Mexican government.

Activists have continued to coordinate acts of protest and demonstration throughout the U.S., including in Los Angeles. The search for the missing students is still ongoing.


Students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa have called for the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue since the 1950s, but the #RhodesMustFall movement began when an activist threw human feces at the statue, and initiated a protest with about a dozen other people who performed a Southern African dance around the statue. Rhodes was a prime minister of the Cape Colony during the late 19th century whose effigy some say is a symbol of racism and colonialism.

Reactions to the protest indicated that several other students and faculty felt the university had failed to progress past institutional racism. One lecturer told the Cape Town Times in March that only five out of 200 senior professors at the university were black. Students said they wanted the university’s curricula to focus less heavily on Europe and the United States.

The university removed the statue and announced a new black studies program in April, but #RhodesMustFall initiated a string of other actions calling for the “decolonization of education” in other South African public universities, including the Open Stellenbosch movement at Stellenbosch University and the approval of a task force at Rhodes University to consider changing the university’s name and moving away from colonial traditions.


This hashtag evokes images of past protests against former UCLA chancellor Albert Carnesale, whose failure to speak out against Proposition 209, which prevents universities from considering race, sex or ethnicity in admissions, was interpreted by many as a failure to promote diversity. More than 300 students protested his inauguration as chancellor in 1998 and about 20 protested the naming of Carnesale Commons in 2013.

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Campus newsNews

Why are UCLA’s Sunken Gardens sunken?

UCLA is better known for its architecture than its greenery.

This comes as little surprise. An urban campus like ours – spanning a mere 420 acres and hemmed in by a cemetery to the west and the very much alive civilization to the east – has to worry more about housing students, faculty and administrators than offering lush, open spaces. For that, there’s always UC Davis, which sits on 5,300 acres of land. Or the entire Midwestern United States.

So why all the green space in North Campus, the contrast to the notoriously dreary southern counterpart? To be specific, why do the Sunken Gardens exist? And why are they sunken in the first place? As it turns out, there’s a lot of depth to the story of the Sunken Gardens, formally regarded as Dickson Court North and South – divided, just like the campus as a whole.

A little digging into Westwood history yields a surprising fact: The gardens were once a gulch – or an arroyo, for all you geography buffs. A nice-looking bridge, consistent with the rest of the fledgling campus’ Romanesque Revival style, connected the entirety of campus to whatever was across – at the time, not much.

Dickson Court as it appeared in 1929. (Los Angeles Public Library)

After World War II, the campus was expanding at a rapid clip, and having a miniature valley divide the campus dramatically is, to say the least, unhelpful in that regard. So, in 1947, they decided to fill in the arroyo – thus the Sunken Gardens were created. Perhaps they ran out of dirt to fill it in all the way?

UCLA Magazine notes that there were talks of filling in southern garden to build an amphitheater, but the plans were scrapped “because of financial considerations.” Given the lack of open space on this campus-in-a-metropolis, that consideration was for the better.

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2024 Olympics would give Los Angeles a chance to fix transportation issues

The Summer Olympics might be returning to Los Angeles in 2024. But will the international sporting event do anything for Angelenos?

Not everyone takes kindly to the idea of a third Olympics in Los Angeles. This is understandable. The Games are expensive – modern host countries have always footed larger bills than estimated. And cost issues aside, if you commute around Los Angeles, you’re probably terrified about what this will do to traffic. I share these concerns – after all, during the summer, I commuted more than an hour from the nearby San Gabriel Valley to UCLA for classes, even though it’s only 30 minutes away without traffic.

But those critical of L.A. 2024 for either reason should realize that the Olympics aren’t just about bowing down to the International Olympic Committee’s demands. Such large-scale, civically sponsored events involve changes or implementations of public policy and urban planning. What this means is that the Olympics might not be so bad for your commute after all, and spending for the Games can catalyze the city’s recent efforts to reform its infamously car-centric image.

1. Los Angeles just hosted the Special Olympics World Games.

An estimated 500,000 spectators, 30,000 volunteers, 6,500 athletes and their families and assistants descended on Los Angeles last month for the largest World Games in history and the largest-scale L.A. event since the 1984 Olympics. I commuted to UCLA – one of the event venue locations – for classes during the 10-day period, and traffic was not perceptibly worse. The only addition to traffic was a handful of school buses designated for athlete transportation, but it’s hardly enough to add minutes to a commute. It’s too optimistic to say that the 2024 Olympics won’t impact traffic at all, but to compare, the London saw almost 700,000 visitors during the 2012 Games; in 1984, LA saw around 770,000.

2. Traffic wasn’t bad during the 1984 Games.

The reason for this was quite simple. We’re never in traffic; we are traffic. The city encouraged residents to work from home or use public transportation during the two weeks of the Games, decreasing traffic by around 5 percent. It’s true the effect may not be as great this time around, since the Greater L.A. area currently has around 7 million more residents than it did in 1980, and this number will surely increase by at least another 2 million by 2024. Yet this ignores the fact that …

3. … the city has a rapidly-expanding public transit system …

Car traffic was partially allayed during the 1984 Games through encouragement of buses for shorter distances and Metrolink trains for longer ones. The entire Metro Rail system, which did not exist at the time, is now one of the fastest-expanding transit systems in the country. Next year will see the opening of the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica – the so-called “Subway to the Sea.” By 2024, the system will have expanded to allow a rider to travel from Santa Monica, to Downtown, to Hollywood – all planned Olympic venue “clusters” – using the rail system with no gaps. Yet Los Angeles County Metro wants to take this further. Taking advantage of the potential Olympic bid, it is asking for federal funds to accelerate completion of the Purple Line Extension and a connector to Los Angeles International airport for 2024 completion dates. Completing both of these projects can greatly lessen demand for automobile transport. And that means less traffic.

4. … not to mention an ambitious mobility plan that will make the city less car-obsessed.

Los Angeles’ transport projects aren’t just about easing congestion. They’re about changing the long-standing stereotype that a car is required to get anywhere in the city. The recently passed Mobility Plan 2035, which calls for more pedestrian access and safety, bike lanes and bike-share programs, can be put to the test during the Olympics and allow the world to see the city in a new, less car-centric, light. The plan aims to redesign sidewalks and streets to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars; the transformation of Times Square in New York from car congestion center into a pedestrian plaza is a notable example.

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