UCLA has taken unprecedented measures, including a new cover and video cameras, to protect the Bruin statue from vandalism leading up to Saturday’s UCLA-USC football matchup.
Last year, approximately $20,000 worth of damage resulted from the red and yellow paint splattered over the bear in Bruin Plaza, said Leroy Sisneros, director of maintenance and alterations for Facilities Management. Because the bear is a sculpture, experts needed to be called in to perform the necessary restorations.
The custom-made metal frame and tarpaulin used to cover the bear in the past has been replaced with a wooden enclosure, Sisneros said.
The new structure, which cost about $5,000 to build, was designed to be put together like a puzzle and would be extremely difficult to take apart, he said. If anyone wanted to penetrate the structure, they would somehow have to physically break in. The tarpaulin, by contrast, could easily be slashed.
Other changes to security include increased lighting over the bear and 24-hour video surveillance, Sisneros said. The bear is currently being videotaped at all times from several different angles.
The cameras were installed three months after the bear was last damaged and cost about $15,000, he said.
Sisneros said students also need to be more proactive in observing who is around the bear and reporting suspicious activity.
University police aim to provide extra attention to the bear, said UCPD spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein. She declined to give details on what protective measures would be taken.
Students have also taken on the task of protecting the Bruin statue throughout the week.
The Bruin Bear Security Force, organized by the UCLA Rally Committee, began its overnight stakeouts Sunday at 9 p.m., and will continue them through Friday night, said Matthew Murphy, a fourth-year political science student and rally committee member.
While at least five rally committee members are required to be present each night and stay until early the next morning before their classes, Murphy said the committee hopes hundreds of students will participate.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council planned the Bruin Bear Security Force last year as a three-day celebratory event to get the campus pumped up for the football game, said Kristina Sidrak, a third-year history student and last year’s co-director of the security force.
The Rally Committee was invited to host last year’s Nov. 25 night festivities, which was the night on which the statue was vandalized, Murphy said.
Although the group was by the bear until 3 a.m., the bear was still vandalized, Sidrak said, resulting in a large outcry from the student population.
Following the vandalism, the rally committee decided it needed to increase its efforts and take full control over the protection of the bear, Murphy said. As a result, the rally committee organized the security force this year.