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’s week one of winter quarter and the news cycle has already begun to pick up. From two men being arrested for the alleged vandalism of the Bruin Bear to the Los Angeles City Council announcing big plans to house the homeless, here are The Quad’s top picks for this week’s news stories.
The student adviser position to the University of California Board of Regents is at risk of being cut at next week’s meeting.
The student advisor is one of three positions on the board that represents undergraduate students on topics from sexual assault policy to tuition cost. It was established in 2016, following many requests to increase representation of undergraduate students among the Regents. However, this decision was made on the condition that a vote would be needed to continue the position after 2018.
It is officially the new year, and many are advocating strongly for the continuation of the position.
Current student adviser, Edward Huang, thinks the position has encouraged discussion of many student concerns that are often overlooked in the Regents committees. The position seems to have proven that it can provide some tangible results — just last year, for example, the former student adviser Rafi Sands saw success in advocating for lower tuition.
First-year biochemistry student Buddy Al-Aydi along with second-year psychobiology student Kai Huang shared their experiences coming out as members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as how they have dealt with the disapproval from their respective family members.
After publicly coming out as gay in November, Al-Aydi was told by his father to never speak to his family again and was cut off financially just months later. Fortunately, he has since received both emotional and financial support at UCLA, but he expressed some of the struggles he has faced since being shunned from his own family.
Huang took independence from his family when he first began the process of transitioning. He said that although their stories are similar, Al-Aydi is struggling because he was unable to plan how he was going to handle financial independence.
Al-Aydi and Huang had differing approaches to coming out to their families. While Al-Aydi was determined to come out regardless of any potential backlash he may face, Huang was more cautious and ensured that he would be financially independent in case his family decided to cut him off. Huang also encouraged others in similar situations to do the same. He specifically warned people of color not to buy into the fairy-tale coming out stories they see in the mainstream media because their stories may differ entirely.
The University of California’s contract with the publishing company Elsevier came to an end on Dec. 31. Before signing another potentially costly contract, the UC wants to ensure lower subscription costs as well as open access to all of its research. The UC is pushing for a “publish-and-read” agreement, which combines the cost of subscribing to journals with the cost of making the journals public. This would accomplish its goals of both lowering costs and providing open access to research.
According to Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, co-chair of the UC Journal Negotiations Task Force, Elsevier, as well as other publishing companies, have been steadily increasing costs for years while the budgets for libraries have decreased. Consequently, libraries have been forced to cut costs by canceling subscriptions to journals as well as purchasing fewer books.
Burt Totaro, a professor in the UCLA mathematics department, offered The Bruin some insight as to why a contract with Elsevier is so costly: The company only offers access to all its journals in a bundle; some of its journals are very prestigious, others, not so much.
As of now, the negotiation is still ongoing and access to Elsevier has been extended to Jan. 31. After this date, UC students and faculty will continue to have access to most of the already-existing articles in Elsevier journals, but it is unclear if any of its new articles will be available.
The Los Angeles National Airport is reducing the hours of its FlyAway bus services in Westwood due to its increasingly low ridership. Less than one rider per trip rode the bus during its earliest and latest hours.
Now, if you want to ride the bus from Westwood to LAX, you’ll have to catch it between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of its former hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Popular companies like Uber and Lyft may be a big reason why the FlyAway bus has become less popular according to Saba Waheed, research director at the UCLA Labor Center, who told The Bruin ridesharing companies are more appealing because they subsidize their prices. This is very different than what LAX does with its prices for the FlyAway bus, which are set to a $10, one-way fare.
In other words, Uber and Lyft are cheaper than the FlyAway, making them a lot more attractive to college students; and now that the FlyAway bus has cut its hours, one can imagine that taking a car service to LAX is only going to look more convenient moving forward.
A Westwood housing facility for the homeless may come to fruition due to the work of the Los Angeles City Council.
The plan is a bridge housing project, which differs from the average homeless shelter in that residents of this facility will not only have shelter, but will also be offered three meals a day as well as be provided with mental health and anti-addiction services. Residents of the bridge housing project would also get to keep their pets, something that is rarely allowed in homeless shelters.
The Council is clearly considering an empathetic approach to treating the homeless population in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times, there are about 58,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County and three out of four of that population are living in cars, tents or campers. Compared to other cities, LA has one of the largest group of unsheltered people in the United States. Thus the need for facilities catered for the homeless. The problem of homelessness in Los Angeles is growing and the bridge housing project would be an attempt by the LA City Council to be apart of the solution by catering to the basic human needs of homeless individuals.
Two arrests have been made for the vandalism of the Bruin Bear that took place during Rivalry Week.
The two young men charged for the crime, Willie Johnson, 18, and Louie Torres, 19, could face up to three years in prison for allegedly painting the statue in USC’s school colors, ultimately causing over $10,000 in damages. These arrests may serve as a reminder from the university that vandalism is a crime no matter the context and will not be taken lightly.
Johnson and Torres, who are not connected to either school, are currently being held on bond at the Los Angeles County Jail.