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Throwback Thursday, Week 4: Don’t Walk

Viewpoint columnist and reluctant pedestrian David Keyes presented a host of absurd alternatives for on-campus transportation investments in 2005. (Daily Bruin file photo)
Viewpoint columnist and reluctant pedestrian David Keyes presented a host of absurd alternatives for on-campus transportation investments in 2005. (Daily Bruin file photo)

It’s Thursday and I’ve somehow taken an Uber to campus five times this week in a panicked rush.

I think I should be more ashamed of my excess – after all, I am not the sharing economy’s biggest fan and my weekly failure to go to the John Wooden Center means running late to class is my primary source of exercise – but I’m not. I’m just tired. Between editing for The Bruin, sometimes going to class and running an unending list of errands, hitting the request button hardly feels like an indulgence.

You don’t have to look far back to find similar frustration. On April 20, 2005, Viewpoint columnist David Keyes wrote about the “living hell” of having to walk everywhere on campus before offering a list of investments UCLA could make to become “the modern campus-transport capital of the world.”

On-campus transport is no longer the problem in 2015, though that’s not to say it’s gotten any easier to keep climbing hills. Instead, students need more help escaping the Westwood bubble than they do getting to class.

“We have wasted much of our college lives mindlessly walking,” Keyes writes.

His suggestions, including a zipline from Hedrick Hall to Bunche Hall and “Janss Escalators,” would have added whimsy to the slow, monotonous march students make to lecture while subtracting precious minutes spent walking from their on-campus commutes.

Ten years later, though, and Keyes’ complaints about communal campus transport – primarily bus and van services – have been mostly addressed by UCLA Transportation. He claimed bus and van services were ineffective because of inconvenient times, inconvenient routes and poor advertising.

To be fair, the situation was bleak at the time, but in 2010, UCLA Fleet and Transit re-branded the UCLA bus service, introducing real-time updates on bus arrivals online and by phone and titling it Bruin Bus. Since then, the fleet has also added new routes and received additional funding – though unfortunately at the expense of higher-priced parking permits.

The Community Service Officer van service has similarly improved since the turn of the decade, extending its coverage and ditching fixed routes for flexible service.

These options supplement the variety of individual choices students can make to accelerate their pace, but none of them help students access the Greater Los Angeles area. The city’s trying, though, and working on developments like extending the Purple Line to Westwood and restructuring street-planning policy to improve mobility. It’s really only a matter of time and endless bureaucracy before students can mindlessly walk through Los Angeles with the same ease they do on campus.

Until then, some students will continue to use their boards, bikes and scooters to whiz past others down Bruin Walk. They’ll even Uber or “hoverboard” to class in pursuit of some extra time – to sleep, to study, to party, to do every one of the innumerable things youth demands.

Everything, except maybe get downtown.

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Mojo Asks Students

Swipegate: Student reactions on losing their Premier meal plan swipes

(Alyssa Dorn/Daily Bruin)
(Alyssa Dorn/Daily Bruin)

Students living on the Hill with Premier meal plans awoke Wednesday to a very upsetting email from UCLA Housing Services.

The email informed them of an error with the BruinCard system in which swipes used prior to Oct. 1 were not properly deducted from accounts. UCLA Housing individually calculated the swipe balance of everyone with Premier meal plans who was affected, and proceeded to deduct swipes from their account. This change restored everyone to their proper balance, as if the September error never occurred.

Housing ended its correspondence with an apology, and, as “a token of our appreciation for your understanding,” offered an additional themed dining night this quarter. Ironically, Housing’s token of appreciation will cost students an additional swipe.

As one might expect, this news got Hill residents riled up. Facebook and Twitter were set ablaze with students upset at how this situation was handled. The Daily Bruin was quick to post about the situation as well.

After the initial backlash, Housing has formally responded to mitigate the situation in an email to students: “we will restore all impacted meal plans to balances that will allow all students to eat healthy for the rest of the quarter.”

Before the most recent update, however, we asked Bruins affected by the swipe deduction about their feelings in regard to the day’s events:

“Housing may have corrected the issue that lead to the error, but they have fallen far short of correcting the error itself. Frankly, simply deducting the swipes that were awarded via a technical error that students had nothing to do with completely out of the blue is on par with stealing. Well, maybe more along the lines of Indian Giving. Not exactly the exemplary model of acting with integrity or accountability as you’d expect from an institution that claims to hold these among its top values.”

―Kenneth Hesse, fourth-year economics student (32 Swipes lost)

“The fact that Housing is taking no blame for this and passing it onto the students is asinine. I think that they should have only taken half of the swipes back, and left the others as good faith for their mistake. No one cares about an extra themed dining night, especially when I will be out of swipes before that even comes around.”

―Samantha Taylor, second-year geography student (30 Swipes lost)

“As an employee for Residential Life this food is my actual revenue for the hours I work. Housing did the equivalent of giving me a bonus I was unaware of, I spent my money, and then they changed their mind and asked for it all back. Housing swindled me into losing an entire week of pay with no warning of the error until my meals were taken away from me.”

―Hannah Xavier, fourth-year psychobiology student (15 Swipes lost)

“I woke up this morning to find out that I now have 58 swipes left. That is a little more than one a day for the rest of the quarter. We needed to be notified immediately and informed about the extra swipes so that we could stop overspending. I used my extra swipes early in the quarter, and now I am in steep swipe debt. Additionally, Housing is claiming that I swiped 43 times in 10 days, so clearly their calculations are also wrong because I don’t recall eating over four meals a day for over a week straight.”

―Flora Ziprin, fourth-year psychobiology student (43 Swipes lost)

“While I understand that it’s impossible to give everyone back all the swipes that were lost, I feel like Housing services could do more to compensate for their mistake. I have been swiping extra, but now I am quite behind and salty. I just hope that Housing does something to help people that will be short on swipes at the end of the quarter due to their mistake.”

―Mark Washkewicz, second-year chemical engineering student (22 Swipes lost)

“What Housing has done is downright unethical. Their system failed and the only way that we can see our swipes is on their system, therefore we spent our swipes accordingly. I was treating myself as to not let these extra swipes go to waste. They fixed the problem, but instead of letting it be their mistake, they are dipping their hands into our accounts and stealing our swipes overnight. The lack of transparency and excess of greed is upsetting.”

―Sam Norton, fourth-year psychobiology student (20 Swipes lost)

On Twitter, Housing has responded to criticism with urgency and even a bit of humor, saying that “we won’t let anyone go hungry” and “we’re working on a solution.” It also had considered “#swipocalypse” to describe the event instead of “#swipegate.”

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Why the US election cycle seems to never end

Voting takes five minutes, but in the United States, it's preceded by an incredibly lengthy campaigning period. (Creative commons photo by the State of Maryland on Flickr)
Voting takes five minutes, but in the United States, it's preceded by an incredibly lengthy campaigning period. (Creative commons photo by the State of Maryland on Flickr)

Our neighbors to the north just wrapped up a major general election Monday, which featured the longest campaign cycle in Canadian history.

How long, you ask? 78 days. Yes, a two-month election cycle is considered a marathon in Canada. Probably because the United Kingdom, which operates under a similar parliamentary system of government, got its May election over with in little over a month. In France, the official campaign period is less than two weeks. That’s only twice as long as the one for our undergraduate student government, which – let’s be fair – is far, far less important.

The relative efficiency in which every Western democracy that is not the United States carries out their election campaigns puts our system, and our country, to shame. So what’s the reasoning behind our seemingly endless presidential election campaigns and drawn-out, overpriced congressional elections?

Actually, the problem lies in the fact that there is no system to speak of. Simply put, there is no regulation of campaign cycle length in the U.S., making it feel less like a cycle and more of a never-ending deluge. Yes, there is a Federal Election Commission – the infamous defendant of the Citizens United court case that opened the floodgates for unlimited campaign contributions by groups – but it concerns itself with how elections are financed in this country, not how long campaigns can last.

This has proven to be a critical omission in election law that has thoroughly permeated American culture, as elections from inconsequential elementary school student bodies to the presidency all feel like they last far, far too long. The New York Times began its coverage of the 2016 election in February … of 2012, long before the last election was decided. The Times, however, does possess a degree of self-awareness: An analysis of campaign announcements on The Upshot blog shows that Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 candidacy 576 days before Election Day.

How can we allow ourselves to live in a country where the election for a university’s student government is over half the length of campaigning for the French general election? Then again, the oft-discussed death of journalism would accelerate if elections lasted two weeks instead of two years, so I shouldn’t be talking.

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Arts & EntertainmentCulture

The ‘hoverboards’ of today, not quite Marty McFly’s future

(Noor Gill/Daily Bruin)
(Noor Gill/Daily Bruin)

October 21, 2015 marks “Back to the Future Day,” but the future hasn’t really delivered: The hoverboard Marty McFly rode in “Back to the Future Part II” is still the stuff of dreams.

However, the self-balancing scooter, commonly known as a “hoverboard,” is very much a reality around campus. Early adopters of these devices can be seen whizzing around at a top speed of approximately six miles per hour. Running between $300 and $1799, hoverboards are easily bought online or at kiosks at the Westfield Century City mall or the Third Street Promenade.

One student, fourth-year sociology student Jacky Dai, even sells them wholesale on campus, and it was on one of his boards that I spectacularly failed at balancing myself. After trying out the hoverboard and rediscovering my lack of grace, I decided to take a look into the mechanics and history of these commercialized hoverboards.

Originating in China in 2014, the first iteration of the hoverboard was the Chic Smart S1 Electric Scooter, and since then, many copycat models have come out, also from Chinese companies. Unfortunately, they’re more Paul Blart than Marty Mcfly, as the technology is similar to that of the Segway: rolling wheels, combined with balance, just sans handlebars.

That being said, a few hoverboards that actually hover are currently in the works. Using magnetic levitation, Lexus and Hendo have both put forth prototype models, which work using electromagnets in conjunction with conducting surfaces. The limitations of both, however, mean that this technology is fairly useless for day-to-day hoverboarding.

So stop calling them hoverboards, kids. You’re just on a Segway without handlebars.

Kelly Yeo, Daily Bruin blogging contributor, tests out a hover board, one of the trendiest modes of transportation on campus. Daily Bruin Video follows her learning process to see if the newest thing on wheels is a feasible solution to making it to class on time.

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