Tuesday, January 21

Throwback Thursday: Student council member refutes The Bruin’s allegations about summer stipends

(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.

If there’s anything more irritating than repeatedly being asked what you did over summer break, it’s having students find out your summer vacation was on their bill.

Or, you know, maybe just having the Daily Bruin allege you did that.

Before you start searching for your pitchfork: That didn’t happen this year. In fact, it didn’t happen in this millennium.

It did happen back in 1977, though. And you can bet the accused party was livid.

The Bruin has historically published a special, larger-than-normal issue called “Registration Issue” – “Reg Issue” for short – at the start of the academic year. This paper features a torrent of back-to-school-themed stories, with each of The Bruin’s many sections going all out to welcome students back from their summer vacations.

Forty-one years ago, the paper’s editors had the ultimate story to introduce the campus community to the undergraduate student government: a report that the Student Legislative Council, the precursor to the Undergraduate Students Association Council, was being paid despite not always meeting during the summer. In other words, student leaders allegedly held vacations on students’ buck.

Talk about a True Bruin Welcome.

To be fair, the allegations were not all that groundbreaking. The Bruin published a number of SLC-related stories during that year’s Reg Issue, including one about how its members missed several of their summer meetings and gave their stipends to staffers who filled in for them.

SLC members weren’t having it.

“We at SLC have a sincere respect for the Daily Bruin,” Kimberly Chait, then SLC administrative vice president, wrote in a letter to the editor.

So far, so good.

“This respect waivers at times, but this time a tidal wave has struck,” Chait wrote.

Okay, maybe not so good. And yes, Chait apparently couldn’t spell.

“Once again, it seems appallingly evident that our Daily Bruin has published unwarranted speculative accusations against SLC,” the administrative vice president continued. “To have the gaul to blatantly report that SLC vacations were being financed by ASUCLA (Associated Students UCLA) is beyond the realm of plausibility and legitimacy.”

That was likely the ’70s way of calling The Bruin “fake news.” Oh, and yet another spelling mistake.

Chait also wrote about how in the same issue, The Bruin reported extensively on the work SLC had done over the summer.

“If these reporters had eyes they would have been oppulant enough to realize that fifty percent of their ‘Reg Issue’ contained articles (written by them) about what SLC had been doing all summer, plus the numerous SLC advertisements financing their paper,” she wrote of the staffers who authored the contentious story.

There was a typo in that line too.

Chait argued the fact that SLC didn’t meet for 32 days was in no way an indication of the council’s allegedly scandalous actions. In addition to listing the administrative vice president office’s summer achievements, Chait made an emotional plea about some of the council members’ absences during the summer.

“I not only arranged discounts in Westwood for all UCLA students … but also participated in the myriads of proposals, plans, decision making about the expenditure of your Reg Fees,” the administrative vice president wrote. “Granted, some of us live out of state and have to go home once in awhile.”

The SLC member didn’t mince words at the end of her letter, either.

“Instead of worrying about where we were all summer as they have so neatly chosen to do, I hope the Bruin will look at our record of accomplishments and quickly get its act together,” Chait wrote.

Those are harsh words.

USAC, Daily Bruin and students seemed to have improved their ways four decades later. The student council continued to meet this summer, and earned itself no story about how its members got vacations on students’ dime. The Bruin reported less so on student government in its 2018 Reg Issue, focusing more on pressing topics such as limited mental health care access and students being shortchanged by the university when it comes to online tools.

Of course, the relationship between the undergraduate student government and UCLA’s student newspaper continues to be tested every year. But the start of the year is a time for new beginnings – and council-paper relations are rather pleasant.

And at the very least, submitters to The Bruin seem to have improved their spelling and grammar.

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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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