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Tours of UCLA provide titillation

By Daniel Miller

May 1, 2005 9:00 p.m.

I never took a campus tour before deciding to attend UCLA. I
just knew that this was the school for me. But because I am
graduating in a month or so, last week I decided it would be a good
idea to take one.

I decided to go undercover, so as to not spook my tour guide. I
wanted to see what was on the minds of incoming students. I also
went because I wanted to watch my tour guide talk while walking
backwards up multiple flights of stairs. Seriously, I bet there is
a lot of training involved in that.

The tour began in front of Kerckhoff Hall, where our tour guide,
second-year political science student Eric Stevens, introduced
himself and asked the prospective students to identify themselves
and their academic interests. One was interested in film, another
in biology. Others were undecided. The genial Stevens told the
group that most incoming students enter UCLA without a clear idea
of what they will study. The kids looked relieved.

As we began walking I noticed that Stevens clutched a huge
bottle of water ““ little did I know that our nearly two-hour
march would leave me seriously fatigued and dehydrated.

Things were going very smoothly at the offset of the tour until
a defiant act threatened to shatter the group’s sense of
unity.

“Get away. Get away while you still have time!”

That’s probably not a great line to be uttered during a
UCLA sales pitch, but Stevens didn’t skip a beat when a
passerby shouted that invective in our direction.

The prospective students giggled, but their parents looked
mortified ““ it was only the beginning of the tour and already
crazy, collegiate hippies were assaulting their children’s
ears.

I could only smile, silently noting that there was a great deal
these youngsters would soon learn about UCLA.

We then moved to South Campus where Stevens dazzled the parents
with interesting statistics about the campus. Did you know that the
UCLA Medical Center has 22.5 miles of hallways ““ more than
any other building in the world?

As the group walked over to North Campus, Stevens talked about
the pseudo-rivalry between North Campus students and South Campus
students. The kids really thought this was a riot.

At one point Lyndon LaRouche supporters approached the group and
handed pamphlets to the wide-eyed prospective students. I laughed
thinking about the skills these adolescents would have to quickly
pick up if they were to survive the flyer hurricane that is Bruin
Walk. After stopping in the sculpture garden, our stroll through
North Campus ended in front of Powell Library.

It was interesting to watch current students stare at the
prospective students and smile. Almost every current student gave
our group the same look ““ it is a sly smile that means to
say: “Just wait until you get here and see what college is
really about.”

I tracked down one student with that type of smile, first-year
undeclared student Sammy Cloud.

“They look pretty young,” Cloud said.

Throughout the tour, the group peppered Stevens with questions.
The prospective students were curious about class size, the College
Honors Program, and how UCLA faired in the national university
rankings. I remember that as a senior in high school, university
rankings were a hot topic.

Once I got to UCLA, none of that stuff mattered. I’m sure
these future students will soon realize that in the long run,
things like university rankings are not important.

Of course, standing around in such a crowded part of campus was
not good for my undercover status ““ I kept seeing friends,
who were very confused to see me on the tour. My cover was blown. A
few of the parents told me that they had suspected I was not 17
years old. The prospective students all said that they enjoyed the
tour. Most of them raved about the gorgeous campus.

After the tour, I spoke with Stevens about his job.

“It’s a really fun job,” Stevens said.
“I’ve got a lot of pride for UCLA. I basically get paid
to walk around and talk about my school.”

Stevens said that as a high school senior, he had to choose
between UCLA and UC Berkeley. He said the campus tour he took at
UCLA made the difference.

“The reason I thought UCLA was so cool was school
spirit,” Stevens said. “It seemed like students were a
lot more fun. I really liked my tour.”

Call it coincidence or fate, but I am actually a friend of the
person who led Stevens on that fateful and life-changing tour
““ the Daily Bruin sports reporter David Regan.

“Eric was an affable prospective student,” Regan
said. “He showed all the signs of a true Bruin. I am
flattered by what he said. I am just trying to do my
job.”

Judging from my tour and the smiling kids, it looked as though
Stevens also did a good job of doing his job.

E-mail Miller at [email protected]

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