Friday, February 28

Throwback Thursday: Students flush out finals week stress at Ackerman Union bowling alley

(Daily Bruin archives)

Throwback Thursdays are our chance to reflect on past events on or near campus and relate them to the present day. Each week, we showcase and analyze an old article from the Daily Bruin archives in an effort to chronicle the campus’ history.

I hate to sour the mood, but finals are just around the corner.

In a couple of weeks, UCLA’s rather peaceful – albeit remarkably chilly – campus will turn into a hotbed of stress, sleep deprivation and pent up emotions. Students will find themselves participating in everything from the “Midnight Yell,” in which they let out a shriek at the strike of midnight to release their frustrations, to dancing along in the Silent Disco at Powell Library.

But it’s hard to imagine a couple of yells and a bit of silent salsa is relieving enough for the stressed-out college student. It would be far more satisfying if students could, say, chuck a heavy object at something and watch things topple to the floor.

Something like, say, bowling. You know, the sport involving a heavy ball, nine pins, fancy shoes and the pleasant sound of things falling to the floor.

Of course, there’s no major bowling alley within Westwood – except for the occasional arrangement of tin cans that could, if you angle your head in one way, act as a nine-pin arrangement. Students have to venture to neighborhoods such as Santa Monica and Inglewood to find themselves a compelling bowling center, and that’s not exactly feasible when you’re cramming for final exams.

Thirty-eight years ago, though, students had the luxury to bowl off their stress at Ackerman Union. That’s right: as the Associated Students UCLA advertised in a March 6, 1980 issue of the Daily Bruin, students could “bowl off (their) tensions in the wee hours” of the morning.

And it seems ASUCLA thought student tensions were rather high back in the day. The advertisement displayed a cartoonish, menacing, somewhat parodical image of the Big Bad Wolf from “The Three Little Pigs” chucking a bowling ball at a conglomeration of bowling pins. The quasi wolf’s scruffy face was graced by a malicious, contorted, half-smiling, half-cross-eyed expression, and the furry animal was shown walking on two legs, brandishing a pair of black jeans and skipping in a pair of sneakers.

“Do not rage against Educational Injustice!” the advertisement read. “Pin Down the System with Sublimated Aggression!”

Bruin Bowl, the name of the bowling alley, was housed in the A-level of Ackerman Union, and was open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday of finals week.

Picture a bowling alley being in place of restaurants such as Jamba Juice and Bruin Buzz and you’ve got the idea.

“We’ll even give you free coffee and doughnuts after 10:00 p.m so hit the books then Strike Back!” the advertisement continued.

The pun was clearly intended.

Certainly, it’s hard to see how chucking a bowling ball is somehow sublimated when there are other, less invigorating stress-releasing activities to partake in – yoga, hanging out with friends and a quiet walk, to name a few – but UCLA was clearly paving the way as a university that met its students’ diverse entertainment needs.

These days, UCLA and its student groups tend to defer to a less physically taxing form of stress relief. These events include installing dog-petting stations on campus toward the end of the quarter and offering free food during finals week. The theme is clearly sugar and cute, furry animals – not a bad approach to addressing heightened cortisol levels.

But while these efforts are no doubt effective in quelling at least some amount of students’ stress, they still can’t replace the sweet joy of lobbing a heavy ball down a wooden alleyway. Ackerman Union may not have a whole lot of space these days for an alleyway, but who knows: rolling heavy objects down Bruin Walk and watching them knock things over sounds like an option.

Senior staff columnist

Tadimeti was the Daily Bruin's Opinion editor from 2017-2019 and an assistant Opinion editor in the 2016-2017 school year. He tends to write about issues pertaining to the higher education, state politics and the administration, and blogs occasionally about computer science. Tadimeti was also the executive producer of the "No Offense, But" and "In the Know" Daily Bruin Opinion podcasts.

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