In the Jan. 29, 1992 edition of the Daily Bruin, an apology letter from three USC students ran in the Opinion section. Just what exactly were they apologizing for?
Let’s flash back a few months prior, to November. It was the week leading up to the biggest game of the year – the UCLA versus USC annual rivalry at the Coliseum.
UCLA came into the game ranked No. 25 with a 7-3 record, while USC entered the game with a 3-7 record and was in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
Knowing their team had no chance of beating UCLA on the field, several USC students took to vandalizing more than a dozen UCLA buildings in the week leading up to the game.
Of course, none of these intelligent scholars of Troy got away with their petty prank, as “university police arrested the group, along with three other USC students, on Nov. 15 for spray painting more than 30 anti-UCLA slogans on campus,” the Bruin reported.
In December 2018, two men were arrested for vandalizing the Bruin Bear statue in the week leading up to the USC game. Although neither men were affiliated with USC officially, the two were charged with conspiracy and felony vandalism after they allegedly painted the Bruin Bear Trojan cardinal and gold.
Important UCLA icons like the Bruin Bear and the John Wooden statue outside of Pauley Pavilion are put in boxes and guarded in the week leading up to the game. The boxes were first constructed after a similar incident in 2009, when USC students splattered the Bear in cardinal and gold paint, costing UCLA $40,000.
During 2018′s rivalry week, the men were able to sneak onto campus, pry the box open, and douse the bear in paint before resealing it. The vandalism was only uncovered after officials opened the box on the day of the game. The stunt resulted in over $15,000 in damages to the Bear.
The group of USC students from 1991 only caused upward of $3,000 in damages, but got off a lot easier than the culprits of the most recent incident of USC idiocy.
“The six USC students were arraigned in December, but the misdemeanor charges were later dropped after they compensated UCLA for the damage.” the Bruin reported at the time.
Three of the past students worked as resident advisors at USC, and perhaps in an attempt to save their jobs, wrote their letter of apology to UCLA admitting their stunt was “immature and irresponsible” and apologized for “defacing (UCLA’s) campus.”
What was the motive behind the students committing the crime in the first place?
Michael Beatrice, one of the culprits of the vandalism as well as one of the resident advisors who penned the apology letter, admitted that vandalism was not the correct way to show school spirit.
“We got caught up in the whole spirit thing,” Michael Beatrice said. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Beatrice said.
The students ended the letter promising to “work with several groups at USC to try and prevent further occurrences from happening.”
Whether it’s 1991, 2009 or 2018, the passions of the USC-UCLA rivalry run deep. Sometimes, these passions result in rousing displays of school spirit – like the thousands of students that show up every year to the Beat ‘SC bonfire to help ignite their Bruins to a win.
Other times, “school spirit” just gets mixed up with spirited stupidity.