A student government office is reviving a forum for students to submit missed connections and interesting sightings around campus.
Spotted on Bruinwalk, through which students were formerly able to report things observed on campus, will be revived by the Undergraduate Students Association Council Campus Events Commission after a three-year hiatus. The new site will be advertised in the next weeks and will be launched at the beginning of winter quarter, said Alley Madison, USAC Campus Events commissioner.
The original website, which launched in 2010, allowed students to post anonymously about people they saw but were unable to interact with on campus. Spotted on Bruinwalk stopped posting content in 2015 for unknown reasons.
Olly Sholotan, the CEC director of online marketing and a fourth-year musical theater student, said that the CEC is interested in creating a new online community.
“CEC has been very events-based so we think it’d be very cool to explore the community-building aspect of our reach,” Sholotan said. “This will be a really cool way for the campus to be connected.”
Chynna Porrata, a fourth-year nursing student, said since Spotted on Bruinwalk became inactive, the UCLA Secrets Facebook page has been a popular alternative for posting anonymously about missed connections.
“If the Campus Events Commission can bring this concept back on another format people will use, I say go for it because it’s entertaining and nice to hear about stories of people just appreciating each other on a daily basis,” Porrata said.
Furkan Yalcin, a fourth-year political science student, said he thinks the idea is fun, but added it may not be a meaningful use of student fees.
“When you think of student government offices, their initiatives are usually for the greater good of the UCLA community,” Yalcin said. “I don’t know what purpose this serves for the community.”
Ramneek Singh, former finance director of the Sikh Student Association and fourth-year mathematics/economics student, said he believes USAC’s funding priorities are mismanaged because he has had trouble with requesting funding in the past.
“Whenever we ask USAC for money, it always comes too late or there’s too little to pay for the event,” Singh said.
The previous iteration of Spotted on Bruinwalk often contained controversial content. The old site, run by anonymous moderators, included some sexualized content.
For example, one student commented on another student they saw returning from an event.
“Saw you on the way back from your fashion show,” the anonymous student said. “I have a nice big package for you, if you know what I mean.”
Francis Steen, a communication professor, said online anonymity can have mixed results.
“It could be a boost to self-disclosure and, depending on feedback, it can be trial balloon for someone to disclose something about themselves they might otherwise be shy to admit,” Steen said. “Some anti-social or hateful comments could start gaining traction that people would be ashamed of if they had to own up to it.”
The new Spotted on Bruinwalk will have a submission platform available online, but as of now the platform is still in development, Sholotan said.
CEC will moderate all entries to make sure nothing personally identifies anyone or threatens student safety, Madison said. The office will also remove comments that make students uncomfortable when requested.
Sholotan said that the CEC wanted Spotted on Bruinwalk to be less serious and more wholesome at heart.
“The whole vibe behind Spotted is that it’s wholesome,” Sholotan said. “We’ll be screening for anything creepy or inappropriate.”
CEC will advertise the revival on its social media, using the hashtag “SpottedonBruinwalk” and highlighting posts that will be accompanied by cartoons, Madison said. She added the office will give select students who interact with the platform VIP tickets to one of the CEC concerts for Valentine’s Day.
With the revival of the site, Steen said he believes students must learn to communicate face to face.
“One of the things you need to learn at university is learning to talk to people in real life, look them in the eye and starting a conversation,” Steen said.