Sunday, May 24

Week six: Midterm elections, EPA nomination, elevator trouble, Vegan Bake-off

(Courtney Fortier/Daily Bruin)

This Week in the News serves as the Quad’s space for reflection on current events at and around UCLA. Every week, Daily Bruin staffers will analyze some of the most significant stories to keep readers up to speed.

It wasn’t just midterms season at UCLA this week. From the U.S. midterm elections to the EPA’s nomination of James Enstrom, we’ve had plenty to distract us from our exams. Here are the Quad’s picks for the biggest stories of week six.

Midterm elections result in Democrats taking House while Republicans keep Senate

(Liz Ketcham/Assistant Photo editor)

On top of studying for tests and writing papers, students had another duty to fulfill this week: their civic duty. Voting, that is.

Some UCLA students expressed frustration with the long lines to vote in the U.S. midterm elections at Ackerman Grand Ballroom, which was the only polling place on campus. Some waited up to two hours to vote and had trouble finding time in their busy schedules. Upon seeing the wait, many people even turned around immediately. Angielou Brutas, a fourth-year geography and sociology student, told The Bruin that she even considered going to a different precinct to vote. Consolidating the location was meant to decrease student confusion and increase voter turnout. But this ultimately caused the longer lines that left students complaining about the wait time.

Once the votes were counted, the results showed Democrats won control of the House of Representatives while Republicans maintained control of the Senate. The House of Representatives saw an increase in diversity with the first Muslim and Native American women, along with the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti paid a visit to UCLA’s campus to encourage students’ active participation in holding the executive branch accountable.

The 2018 U.S. midterm elections saw 31 percent of voters aged 18-29 casting ballots, according to U.S. News & World Report. This historic number is at least a ten percent increase from the 2014 midterm elections. Here in Westwood, pollworkers at the five most student-heavy precincts at or near UCLA said 4,669 in-person student voters showed up Tuesday.

Problems with UCPath system cause financial disruptions for UC workers

The University of California Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping and Human Resources was implemented at UCLA in September in an attempt to centralize payroll across the University of California. However, problems with the payroll system have left hundreds of UCLA student workers without pay or with incorrect pay for seven weeks.

The United Auto Workers Local 2865 union, which represents academic student employees, has filed a grievance at each of the campuses where UCPath has been put into effect. Yunyi Li, the UCLA campus chair for Local 2865 told The Bruin that some workers are being forced to pay out of pocket for things like tuition and medical care, which are supposed to be contract-given benefits.

While UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vasquez said UCLA is working to resolve UCPath payment issues as quickly as possible, students who depend on these payments are struggling to meet their basic needs, according to Eduardo Solis, USAC general representative 3. Additionally, lecturers have already reported they have been unable to pay their rent, childcare and insurance premiums, said Daniel Schoorl, vice president of University Council-AFT Local 1990.

Vasquez added that the changeover to UCPath has gone smoothly for the majority of UCLA employees. But for those with issues, UCLA is offering emergency pay advances and late fee waivers for students if necessary, Vasquez said.

UCLA-affiliated professors nominated for EPA Scientific Advisory Board

James Enstrom, president of the Scientific Integrity Institute and former UCLA professor, was nominated as a candidate for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board. Enstrom conducted research while at UCLA that contradicted the popular scientific belief that there was a significant link between fine particulate air pollution and premature deaths in California. He said he is in favor of lowering standards of air pollution regulation, and feels he was wrongfully terminated from UCLA because of his unpopular opinion.

Among those concerned about Enstrom’s nomination is Beate Ritz, a professor of epidemiology who had previously served on the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Board. While Ritz said she respects the variety of scientific opinions, she worries about the inclusion of minority opinions that climate change is not a man-made problem on the Scientific Advisory Board. Ritz says these notions may impede the process of passing new environmental protection legislation.

Over half of all UCLA elevators have outdated permits, riders cite malfunctions

A Daily Bruin investigation this week revealed that roughly two-thirds of elevators examined on campus have expired permits.

Eric Ulstrup, senior superintendent of electrical systems, explained that the state inspection process makes expired elevator permits common, but the elevators remain safe and are regularly inspected by elevator mechanics.

Nonetheless, students have given first-hand accounts of troubling entrapment experiences in UCLA elevators. Jarred Franco said she and 11 other students spent two hours trapped in a Rieber Hall elevator with expired permits over the summer.

Elevator malfunctions are commonly the result of a technological glitch, according to Ulstrup. However, Ulstrup said there is now an inspector on the job making sure elevators are up-to-date.

Bake-off aims to dispel doubt that vegan desserts can be delicious

Students competed in the Vegan Bake-Off hosted by UCLA’s Veg Bruins club as part of the Vegan Fair that took place Thursday. The Veg Bruins are a vegan and vegetarian activist club that promotes healthy, plant-based alternatives to UCLA students. The bake-off, which took place in Bruin Plaza, featured homemade vegan desserts such as baklava and Samoa bars that competitors hoped would challenge the misconception that vegan desserts aren’t tasty.

Competitors could enter their dishes into one of three categories: seasonal dishes, small-bites and big-bites. The competition saw desserts ranging from zucchini brownies, to banana bread, to cream cheese tarts. While the ingredients may be different in vegan desserts, Sarahi Arellano, a third-year neuroscience student participating in the bake-off, told The Bruin they often taste indistinguishable from traditional desserts. Arellano said she substitutes key elements like eggs and milk with flaxseed eggs and soy milk. Members of Veg Bruins said they aspire to make the bake-off a quarterly event.

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