Monday, November 19

Bruin Bear Security Force event intended to celebrate, not protect

Facilities workers build a wooden den to protect the Bruin statue Wednesday night after spending hours cleaning red and gold paint from the sculpture.

Facilities workers build a wooden den to protect the Bruin statue Wednesday night after spending hours cleaning red and gold paint from the sculpture. Thomas Standifer / Daily Bruin

Students and alumni are pointing fingers for last week’s vandalism of the UCLA Bruin statue.

Their target: the Bruin Bear Security Force.

The UCLA Bruin statue was vandalized, either last Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, according to police. Red and yellow oil-based paint was splashed onto the statue. There were no witnesses to the crime and no one has been taken into custody. Police have no new information regarding the Bruin vandalism.

In years past, the security force was a gathering of people aimed to protect UCLA’s prized statue during the notorious UCLA-USC rivalry week. Students camped out all night to defend against potential pranksters. This year, however, the event was symbolic and included no security measures.

Elaine Daneshrad, co-director of the event, said she has received calls and e-mails blaming the security force for letting the vandalism happen. She said her biggest regret when planning the event was choosing the name.

“We are not trying to make excuses for what happened,” Daneshrad said. “Our event just got caught in the middle of a prank. In retrospect, we just should have changed the name of the title of our event.”

The event did not include security measures because there was a lack of student interest, said Thach Nguyen, a general representative for the Undergraduate Student Association Council.

Creating a carnival-type event that took students’ minds off the budget crisis and celebrated UCLA pride was a better use of resources, Nguyen said.

In addition, Nguyen said the administration was well aware that the Security Force event wasn’t protecting the bear, and protection of school facilities was ultimately the administration’s job.

Sgt. Tony Duenas said university police could not monitor everywhere at once.

“The police department was aware that it was an area that could be targeted and did periodic checks, but we rely on the eyes and ears of the campus community to give us information,” Duenas said. “We do our best.”

Daneshrad said she was unaware that physical pranks between USC and UCLA were still going on because she had not seen them happen within her three years of attendance at UCLA.

The blue tarpaulin covering the statue gave her a false sense of security, she added.

“I didn’t know people could go through (the tarpaulin),” Daneshrad said. “I thought that was a pretty good guard against the bear.”

Interest in the security force now has peaked since the vandalism.

Nguyen said he expects student and alumni interest to drive the reformation of a more traditional event where participants will stand guard again and protect the UCLA landmark.

“What happened with the Bruin Bear this week has really woken people up,” Nguyen said. “There are really USC students out there to get us.”

Much of the blame has been placed on the security force because of the lack of coherent explanation to the student body about what the event was really about, said Kristina Sidrak, who also co-directed the event.

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