Monday, September 24

UCLA administrators discuss MFA, electric scooters, Westwood lawsuit


(Kristie-Valerie Hoang/Assistant Photo editor)

(Kristie-Valerie Hoang/Assistant Photo editor)


Chancellor Gene Block said following the University of California Board of Regents’ decision in March to raise nonresident tuition, UCLA wants to continue providing assistance to students using private scholarships.

Block, who was joined by several administrators, including Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jerry Kang, Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck, Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Monroe Gorden Jr. and Dean of Students Maria Blandizzi, spoke to the Daily Bruin’s Editorial Board on Monday. He and the administrators who joined him talked about support for undocumented and international students, efforts to improve Title IX processes and recent developments in Westwood, among other topics.

International and undocumented students

Blandizzi said UCLA Student Affairs is a hub for undocumented students to get support, including financial support for expenses, such as rent and food. However, she said the university can only provide support for students currently enrolled at UCLA because it is working with limited resources.

The university also partners with Swipe Out Hunger to provide 30 meal swipes at any dining hall for undocumented students each quarter, Blandizzi said. UCLA can also provide students with short-term loan options and emergency housing for 14 days.

Blandizzi added that although negotiations to allow students to use their meal swipes at Hillel at UCLA took several years, the university is open to having conversations with Pouria Abbassi, the new Associated Students UCLA executive director, to help students access more food options.

Title IX

Although sexual harassment allegations against UCLA professor Gabriel Piterberg were filed five years ago, Kang said the university recently let go of him after it had conducted another investigation when a new complaint was filed. Kang added the new investigation began in 2017 and took several months to conclude.

Kang said the complaint was filed after the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Title IX Office were reorganized in 2015.

Two of Piterberg’s graduate students accused him of making unwelcome sexual advances and forcing his tongue into their mouths in 2013. History graduate students Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow sued UCLA in 2015, saying the university did not properly handle their sexual assault complaints. UCLA suspended Piterberg for a quarter without pay in 2015, and settled the lawsuit with the graduate students in September 2016.

Multifactor authentication

UCLA is requiring all students to sign in to their university accounts, such as MyUCLA and CCLE, using a multifactor authentication system in which users can opt for an automated phone call or enter a passcode texted to their phone.

Hacking is a serious problem for the UC, and millions of hacking attempts are made on internal UCLA infrastructure everyday, Beck said.

“UCLA (is) a target. … (The university has) had missteps in the past with security breaches,” Block said. “(It is) not a perfect system, but as close as we can get.”

Faculty and staff began enrolling in the multifactor authentication system in October, with students having to enroll by April 17. Gordon said the university worked with undergraduate and graduate students to determine the best time to implement multifactor authentication.

Wheels on campus

Block said he was concerned the electric scooters that have recently appeared on campus, such as Bird and LimeBike, are a risk to student safety. Beck said UCPD will be more strictly enforcing traffic laws regarding electric scooters, bikes and skateboards starting this week.

Westwood

Beck said UCLA plans to fight a recent lawsuit filed by a Westwood group alleging the university did not follow California Environmental Quality Act guidelines with its proposal to construct additional student housing in Westwood. Steve Sann, the chair of the Westwood Community Council, and the Westwood History and Architecture Association, sued UCLA in March over a building project that would replace a UCLA Extension building on Le Conte Avenue with a 17-story student housing unit.

Beck said he does not believe the complaint has any merit, and the university has already awarded the first contract for the building project.

Block also said he was impressed by Westwood Forward’s efforts to establish a new council for Westwood. Beck said while he would have preferred a solution that involved working with the current Westwood Neighborhood Council, he was also excited to see students engaged in the community and willing to push for a new council.

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City and crime editor

Preal is the assistant news editor for the city and crime beat. He was previously a news reporter for the city and crime beat.


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