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Bruin-Trojan rivalry hinders potential benefits from collaboration

(Cat Nordstrom/Daily Bruin)

By Enming Zhang

Nov. 18, 2019 9:06 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 19 at 3:30 p.m.

Every year, the Bruin Bear is covered up before the rivalry football game with USC.

With it, UCLA continues to cover up a potential cross-campus partnership.

UCLA and USC are two of the most well-known universities in Los Angeles. Both schools have similar rankings, prestige, massive alumni networks and even red brick buildings – yet their years of intense pranking and sly disses have left them historically divided.

And although the innate rivalry will live on, almost 100,000 students could benefit from overlapping events and resources.

The idea of collaboration between the two schools is not nearly as popular as vandalizing each other’s mascots or throwing celebratory bonfires. However, USC and UCLA could benefit from combined efforts in three key areas: a joint professional development program, a combined alumni database for networking and a collective volunteering effort to support their shared student populations and the larger LA community.

After all, LA is a smaller city than it seems after expanding one’s network. And with so many opportunities to give and receive help, a generational rivalry shouldn’t bar the universities from combining their resources.

LA has millions of employees and countless corporations. When applying for specific positions, any guidance a student can find from someone on the inside is beneficial.

But those resources are currently cut in half by crosstown competition.

If USC and UCLA could host a joint professional development program, such as a career fair, students could meet organizations that might only travel to one school because of logistical issues.

Julie Sina, the associate vice chancellor of Alumni Affairs, said in an emailed statement that joint career fairs can help students stand out to recruiters.

“(Joint career fairs) can harness the collective power of our LA-based schools, raise the awareness of our caliber of students and showcase the diversity and professional capacity of our geographic region,” Sina said.

But as of now, a 13-mile drive is limiting student opportunities.

Not only would a program like this increase student access to connections – it could connect students with professionals from more diverse backgrounds.

UCLA and USC both have a laundry list of reputable alumni at their fingertips, in fields spanning from arts and entertainment to business and finance. Students want to learn from these individuals – and between resume-building and heavy course loads, it’s clear they’re willing to put the time in. All the universities need to do is streamline the process.

And collaboration wouldn’t just improve Bruin and Trojan professional development – it would help the communities in their own backyards.

Sherin Khoygani is a second-year civil and environmental engineering student and a member of Bruin Initiative at UCLA, a student organization that guides underserved high school students through the college application process. She said some people have to travel across the city just to access resources.

“It would be a lot easier (if there were similar organizations at USC) because I know a lot of people who come to our workshops are from the area around USC too, so it would be better if it was at USC as well as UCLA,” Khoygani said.

And making that trek isn’t always financially feasible for those students who need it most. Combining, and therefore doubling, the volunteers through a university partnership means doubling the impact on the city. More volunteers in multiple locations can help make these events more accessible to and influential upon the surrounding LA community.

Will Liu, a second-year computational and systems biology student who is the director of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance at UCLA, said that a joint partnership could lessen the strain on each individual chapter of the club.

“In one location, you can only have a certain amount of volunteers and the number of the people who get help is limited,” Liu said. “Two chapters does not just mean helping more people – LA is too big – two chapters can reach more diverse groups and different areas.”

On some level, the work toward a university partnership is already beginning – a great example being this year’s Beat ‘SC Rally.

“While this week is filled with competitive spirit, we have decided to momentarily put rivalries aside to form a combined effort with USC to make donations toward the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation during the rally,” the UCLA Student Alumni Association said in an emailed statement.

Surely, some will argue that joint partnerships between the universities may require too many complicated logistics – after all, both schools have individually initiated programs for their own students to focus on immediate opportunities near them. But since each school’s efforts serve a limited region, it would benefit both to look into potential overlaps between projects, resources and underserved neighborhoods.

The LA community would be the biggest beneficiary of more frequent collaboration – but it wouldn’t hurt students either.

Vandalizing statues is undeniably a part of USC’s and UCLA’s histories, and a friendly rivalry doesn’t have to end for a new chapter of collaboration to begin.

But if alumni networks grow and LA communities are doubly served, maybe the Bruin Bear can finally live without fear of football season.

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Enming Zhang
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