Students spent their Saturday exploring historical and cultural sites in Downtown Los Angeles on the first Diverse City Tour of the year.
The Diverse City Tours program, housed under the Cultural Affairs Commission within the Undergraduate Students Association Council, allows students to venture outside Westwood and learn more about Los Angeles for free. Students visited sites including the Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building in the city; the Last Bookstore, the largest new and used bookstore in California; and the “Pope of Broadway” mural, a 70-foot painting of actor Anthony Quinn.
Anna Chang, the tour’s director and a fourth-year world arts and cultures student, said the Diverse City Tours series has struggled to attract students in the past.
“People like the idea of it, but it’s been hard to materialize actually getting the numbers to show up, and I think a big part of that has just been outreach,” Chang said. “That’s what my team has really been trying to do this year, just make it a known presence on campus.”
Chang said the committee created an Instagram account to inform students about urban issues like gentrification and attract interest for the tours.
Chang added the planning committee picked locations based on their social and political relevance.
“(We wanted) something that students can gain exposure to beyond ‘this cool bar,’ ‘this cool restaurant,’ although we want that to be part of it too,” Chang said.
Chang added funding for the tour came from CAC, which is supported by student fees.
Desire Brown, a first-year human biology and society student, said she appreciated that the tour was free and enjoyed learning more about Los Angeles’ culture.
“As a student, sometimes it’s hard to get around, especially when you don’t know the area, and I feel like LA is a really diverse area,” Brown said. “I’m glad that we were there for the Día de los Muertos festival, and I was glad to learn more about the heritage and the culture.”
Divya Prasad, a second-year undeclared student, said she appreciated that the tour covered transportation costs for students.
“It’s kind of expensive to come out to this area, so it’s nice that they provided transportation,” Prasad said. “That made it a lot easier to leave the Westwood bubble and see something new.”
Chang said despite the program’s title, the Diverse City Tour is not actually operated like a guided tour or field trip. The committee distributed pamphlets that highlighted some of the cultural and historical attractions of the city, and then students were free to explore.
“Our job is to give people the resources to have a good time outside of Westwood,” Chang said. “It’s a pretty simple model, and that’s because we really want it to be people’s experiences and not force something on them, especially since it’s a weekend.”
Wei-Chien Liao, a third-year economics student, said he liked the less formal tour model.
“I like how it gives us free time to explore the city by ourselves,” Liao said.
Chang said she thinks the accessibility of the tours is not found in other programs on campus.
“The fact that we do get a budget to give people the opportunity to see LA, that’s a super unique facet of it, and because we’re part of a commission and part of USAC, we have those funds to bring that to students,” Chang said.
Chang said the committee is currently planning additional tours and workshops about urban issues for later this year.