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Arthur Wang: New college application can offer increased accessibility, counseling

The Coalition Application platform aims to help improve high school students' accessibility to college counselors and developmental feedback in preparation for the application process. (Creative Commons photo by NWABR via Flickr)
The Coalition Application platform aims to help improve high school students' accessibility to college counselors and developmental feedback in preparation for the application process. (Creative Commons photo by NWABR via Flickr)

You might remember college application season as a confusing, daunting and anxiety-inducing time. Part of the stress comes from the fact that there are so many different application systems and forms to navigate.

Well, guess what? There’s going to be another one soon – it’s called the Coalition Application. As the name implies, the new application aims to compete with and challenge the current juggernaut of the industry – if we could call it one – the Common Application.

At the outset, the Coalition App, which currently has a roster of 80 top schools – including all the Ivy League universities – signing on to use it, will only further complicate the college admissions process, especially if students must write additional and differentiated personal statements.

We mustn’t be so quick to judge, though. Since few details have been released, there’s no way to determine every consequence of what the application will mean for college admissions or the University of California system. However, there’s at least two big ways the Coalition Application can shake up the application process.

The first is a commitment to access. When top colleges are accused of lacking socioeconomic diversity, the problem boils down to elite high schools possessing an embarrassment of riches – in this case, college counseling and student advising – while poor high schools in underserved communities have an embarrassing lack of resources. The Coalition Application will attempt to mitigate the latter problem by asking students, if they’d like, to begin constructing a portfolio as freshmen and periodically update it with the typical components of a college application – club memberships, writing samples, coursework – through the fall of senior year.

This alleviates the pressure associated with vain attempts to recount all the important details in a student’s life during three years of school leading up to application season. But the more important feature is that college admissions officers can access and view these portfolios as early as freshman year and offer students advice and direction. This is the sort of assistance that is regularly offered to privileged students at top high schools. Now, even a resource-strapped student in an inner-city high school can receive the pointers they desperately need, and probably otherwise wouldn’t receive until the beginning of senior year – as was the case for myself.

It will also work to reverse an expensive trend. For top students – the sort applying to schools now choosing to use the Coalition Application – declining admit rates and ever-increasing selectivity has compelled most students to apply to many, many more colleges than those before us. A typical senior receiving college advising may be advised to apply to, say, nine colleges, dividing those into three tiers sorted by admissions chances. This is because college is increasingly being viewed as a tough gamble rather than a selection process.

With information from the Coalition Application, college counselors can inform prospective applicants earlier on in the process that they are a good “fit” for the college – and elite schools are nearly all interested in shaping entering cohorts with a certain synergy and dynamic by considering the character and background of applicants, rather than just their grades. While such notifications won’t quash that admissions anxiety nor serve as a guarantee for admission, it can be a slight peace of mind and compel applicants to save time – and money – by not applying to, say, 15 colleges. That might throw the overrated U.S. News & World Report ranking out of whack since it has historically factored in selectivity in its ranking.

Would any of this affect the UC, which likely won’t ditch a native application it has spent time and money developing? That depends on how popular the Coalition Application becomes. If the application’s model becomes popular enough, the UC may choose to imitate it in the interest of attracting more low-income applicants.

For these reasons, and so many more, the Coalition Application shouldn’t be written off just because only the best colleges have skin in the game.

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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.

#UStired2

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.

#RhodesMustFall

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.

#CarnesaleMustFall

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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Arts & Entertainment

NxWorries fell flat at Bruin Bash, but didn’t have to

Following NxWorries' performance and an intermission, the Bruin Bash crowd awaits headliner Madeon at Pauley Pavilion. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Following NxWorries' performance and an intermission, the Bruin Bash crowd awaits headliner Madeon at Pauley Pavilion. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)

When Bruin Bash opening act NxWorries took the stage Monday in Pauley Pavilion, my thoughts were: “Who are these generic rappers?”

My fellow concertgoers near me – all of them seated – seemed to be equally puzzled. Some were swiping their phones furiously to relieve themselves of boredom, or perhaps were Googling the performers to learn something about the not-so-dynamic duo of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge.

The thing was, NxWorries had a chance to be dynamic. Numerous factors, including the act’s pairing with Madeon, the beat-dropping French electronic dance music maestro, and their decision to perform gangsta rap, was what sunk them.

The pair might have fared better if they had actually played to their strengths. They are referred to as R&B artists – so why didn’t they perform more soulful and upbeat R&B tracks that could have swayed the audience in their favor? To be fair, the attempt to appeal to a college crowd and their pairing with an upbeat EDM artist made their jobs more difficult. In addition, Knxwledge’s starting the set by himself DJing rap music proved confusing to the audience – aren’t they a duo? Anderson .Paak then joined him in several gangsta rap covers, none of which were enough to pump up the crowd.

Only later during the performance did NxWorries attempt to bring out their strengths as alternative R&B artists. But it was too late – by the time they performed their only original track, “Suede,” it was falling on deaf ears.

What makes this all the more unfortunate is that, as solo artists, both have worked for, or with, big names like Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre. Their repertoires are in alternative hip-hop: relaxing, electronic-influenced and sometimes a little tongue-in-cheek. Knxwledge’s music is described as “soul-drenched instrumental hip-hop.” Anderson .Paak wore some sort of jacket to emulate rap performers, but his style is more about creating a “warm, fuzzy vibe.” Little of this was on display in their vocal-driven rap performance.

That’s how one musical amateur, and an untold number of Bruins, came to think of them as “generic rappers” – a title NxWorries did not deserve but accidentally earned Monday.

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Campus newsNews

Why are UCLA’s Sunken Gardens sunken?

Today, UCLA's Dickson Court is flanked by what are collectively known as the Sunken Gardens, but this was not always so. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Today, UCLA's Dickson Court is flanked by what are collectively known as the Sunken Gardens, but this was not always so. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin senior staff)

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.

UCLA_Bridge(1).jpg
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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News

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

A Metro Blue/Expo line train traveling eastbound. An extension of the Expo Line to Santa Monica is slated for opening in early 2016. (Creative Commons photo by user Prayitno via Flickr)
A Metro Blue/Expo line train traveling eastbound. An extension of the Expo Line to Santa Monica is slated for opening in early 2016. (Creative Commons photo by user Prayitno via Flickr)

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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