Thursday, April 19

The Quad: A look inside Gene Block’s office hour


What lies beyond remains unknown for the tens of thousands of undergraduates at UCLA, but roughly six lucky students get past Chancellor Gene Block’s door each quarter. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

What lies beyond remains unknown for the tens of thousands of undergraduates at UCLA, but roughly six lucky students get past Chancellor Gene Block’s door each quarter. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)


Chancellor Gene Block’s mythical office hour is widely accepted as real despite the relatively little evidence to actually support its existence.

Intrigued by this absence of proof, the Daily Bruin took a trip to the Chancellor’s office last week to see what exactly transpires at the office hour.

I expected most of the students at the office hour to be from student organizations, trying to lobby for more representation or for the Chancellor to take a larger role in advocating whatever the latest desired policy change is.

But by and large, the six students we talked to were more interested in the wisdom that Chancellor Block has presumably amassed over the course of his career than advocacy.

Megan Alders, a third-year psychology student and the first person to arrive in the Chancellor’s tastefully beige-colored waiting area, wanted to ask Chancellor Block how to best engage with Los Angeles to further UCLA’s goals.

Yassmeen Karimi, a third-year linguistics and French student, had a similar question. She wanted to ask how Chancellor Block would recommend she leaves the most positive impact on her fellow peers. For two years, Karimi was unable to attend school due to health issues and found that reconnecting with her peers was especially integral in getting back her former self. She was curious how she could best pass on those benefits.

“I really want to pay it forward, and I think what was beneficial for me can be beneficial for others,” she said.

Paige Dudek, a fourth-year psychology student, said meeting the Chancellor was on her UCLA bucket list. She said she expected to discuss how the university is addressing the fears that high school students with educational disabilities may face when deciding to apply to a university as notoriously difficult to get into as UCLA. She also had to ask if he would star in Pediatric Aids Coalitions’ promotional video for the yearly Dance Marathon.

Joshua Baum, a graduate student of urban planning at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, hoped to thank him for his strong leadership at UCLA and also ask him what he was doing to increase the diversity of faculty and the student body, as well as to improve the welfare of homeless undergraduate and graduate students.

Derek Weisel, a third-year Educational Leadership Program graduate student, was curious about Chancellor Block’s opinion on how a bridge can be built between private companies in the education sector and public schools K-12. Weisel feels that the solution is nuanced, and he wanted to see what the Chancellor’s thoughts on the matter are.

Benjamin Shou, a first-year computational and system biology student, was interested in Chancellor Block’s transition from biology to campus administration. Shou said he wants to go into healthcare administration himself, and thought this would be a good chance to glean some insight on how science can lend a hand in improving administrative issues.

Everyone had nothing but positive things to say post-interview.

“I felt very comfortable with him,” Baum said. “It seemed like he genuinely cared about my opinion, and that this isn’t a symbolic event at all.”

Dudek agreed that Block seemed to genuinely care about the issues she brought up.

“He said that all the UC campuses are making test scores less of a big deal and focusing on more well-rounded students (when assessing applicants),” she said. “He brought up how they changed Office of Students with Disabilities to Center for Accessible Education, which is great. Ten out of ten.”

So, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? If that tree is Gene Block’s office hour, it appears that indeed it does.

In an unprecedented move, Gene Block has sent out another email for a second office hour in Fall 2016.

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Erin Nyren is the current assistant editor of The Quad. She also writes for arts & entertainment. She enjoys writing about music, film, food and drink.


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