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Arts & Entertainment

Performers spread message of spirituality to students in Bruin Plaza

If you passed through Bruin Plaza this afternoon, you might have heard the sounds of Hare Krishna, a musical group that performs Bhajan, a type of Indian devotional song.

The group, which travels around the world, is centered in Culver City. Tuesday, they played on a corner of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica; Wednesday, they are in Bruin Plaza.

“We’re here to share music, which is one of the best ways to become happy and elevate the soul,” said performer Syaan Priya. Priya, 53, chants a special mantra and plays the harmonium, a type of keyboard instrument.

Around 30 students approached the group within the first hour of their arrival. Most asked questions about the instruments and the meaning behind the chanting, Yasodeva Das said. Das, 25, plays percussion for the group.

“People are very busy, and college students are no exception,” Priya said. “But students are generally very curious and willing to open up their ears to new music.”

Early in the afternoon, a female student approached one of the musicians, Sudarshan Pitts, 19, and asked him about the drum he was playing, called a Mridunga.

“This campus is very lively, full of friendly people,” Pitts said.

Pitts first visited UCLA with the group at age 17. He said Janss Steps is one of his favorite places to play music because of the peaceful atmosphere.

“But the best place to be is right here (in Bruin Plaza), talking to people,” Pitts said.

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Campus news

Photo of the Day: Lord of the Chalkings

Most UCLA students have grown accustomed to seeing chalkings on campus promoting various websites — but “The Lord of the Rings” references? Not so much.

Early this morning, we noticed the quote “They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard!” scribbled in pink chalk on a wall nearby Drake Stadium.

Unlike the “Diagon Alley” chalking that seems to be perpetually etched into the brick wall by one of the elevators of Parking Lot 4, this campus graffiti was removed by 2 p.m.

Have any fun snapshots of campus chalkings? Feel free to send them our way via Twitter, @dbmojo.

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Friday the 13th: A day of caution

It’s a day dreaded by the superstitious, Westwood-ites being no exception. The notoriously unfortunate Friday the 13th fell at the end of this week.

Mojo caught up with a couple of people to ask how their days were going. Here are  some answers we got:

  • Westwood resident Vaughn Hardenberg didn’t get paid today, and he was supposed to be. He was also headed to pick up a prescription at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center and felt a bit apprehensive about a doctor’s appointment later that day.
  • Third-year psychology student Morgan Martin gave herself extra time to get to the train station to travel to San Diego for the long weekend. She had also gotten sick this week, and a professor didn’t show up to one of her classes.
  • Fourth-year art history student Marlee Newman’s Latin quiz didn’t go very well. She admitted to being superstitious — during finals week, she wears her lucky No Doubt or Gwen Stefani shirts, without fail.
Are you superstitious? Got any odd Friday the 13th stories for us? Comment below or tweet @dbmojo.



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Campus news

Amnesty International calls for action against Guantanamo detentions

The student group Amnesty International UCLA organized a performance in Bruin Plaza this afternoon in recognition of the National Day of Action Against Guantanamo.

This month marks the tenth anniversary of counter-terrorism detentions at Guantanamo. Similar demonstrations took place across the country on Wednesday.

The group members initially planned to stage a flash mob, but quickly changed the event to a small dance performance once they realized there were not enough volunteers, said the Amnesty International UCLA Chief of Staff Amy Chen, a fourth-year sociology student.

Currently, 171 people are still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Chen said the group wanted to highlight President Barack Obama’s recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows U.S. citizens to be charged or detained without bail in Guantanamo.

“It basically means Guantanamo Bay is open for business,” Chen said.

A small crowd formed in front of the Bruin Plaza stage while the group’s members performed a five-minute dance routine to the song “Where is the love?”, by the Black Eyed Peas.

The group is encouraging the UCLA community to continue the conversation through social media, specifically through the use of Twitter hashtags #closegitmo and #NDAA. Amnesty International UCLA also plans to post a video of the performance and various interviews with students on YouTube.

Check out the video above for a rough cut of the performance. What do you think of the event? Was it an effective way to mobilize action against Guantanamo? Leave a comment below or tweet us @dbmojo.

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Campus news

Campus increasing digital signage

Digital sign in Kerckhoff Hall

More of those 47-inch LCD screens have been popping up on walls around campus recently — part of an effort to increase digital signage.

A growing number of academic departments have expressed interest in the signs, said Darren Wercinski, founder of Reach Marketing Group, the Minnesota-based company providing the screens.

“A lot of departments are saying they want to quickly get a sign up to share information with students,” Wercinski said.

Late Tuesday morning, Wercinski was overseeing the set-up for a screen in the corridor of Kerckhoff Hall. Alan Godwin, the company’s manager of development, conducted the assembly.

Each system costs about $2,500, none of which comes from student fees, said Jackie Reynolds, director of integration and compliance with the Office of Information Technology.

The screens themselves show announcements, events and a Twitter feed. Departments, either academic or administrative, can pick and choose the information to be displayed. All of the information is stored on a single server, Reynolds noted.

They are also in the process of being wired to Bruin Alert, Reynolds added.

“It will get you the right information in the right places,” she said.


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