Monday, March 30

Top Stories of 2019: measles on campus, the college admissions scandal and the Getty fire


(Banner: Andrea Grigsby/Illustrations director and Courtney Fortier/Daily Bruin Top Left: Jintak Han/Daily Bruin senior staff Top Right: Liz Ketcham/Photo editor Bottom Left: Daily Bruin file photo Bottom Right: Courtesy of Reed Hutchinson/UCLA)


The end of the decade has brought with it many controversial, newsworthy moments. To name a few, the measles scare at UCLA in April brought an onslaught of debates about health safety on campus, and Gene Block’s support for a semester system was revisited. Here’s a rundown of the Daily Bruin’s top stories of the year to close out the 2010s.

David Geffen School of Medicine raises admission standards, incites controversy

Medical students hoping to study at UCLA are facing more stringent admissions standards after the David Geffen School of Medicine raised the math and science GPA and MCAT to 3.4 and 512, respectively.

Many feared these raised standards would result in a less diverse student body as these metrics of success can be systematically different across students of different backgrounds.

Clarence Braddock, the vice dean for education and chief medical education officer, said in an emailed statement that the admissions office recognized students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have had fewer opportunities than their peers from more privileged backgrounds and that this imbalance can affect test scores and GPA.

The School of Medicine was competitive even before the change, with only 175 spots available in a given class and more than 14,000 applicants each year.

As of February 2019, the new policy had been enacted for the incoming class of 2019.

The main concern following the change is the fact that third-party screeners, are often not equipped to distinguish applicants with different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Then-premedical and fourth-year biology student Reijiani Relova said in the article that students’ concerns over this hike in standards may discourage many to even apply to UCLA’s medical school.

Two UCLA buildings potentially exposed to measles, one student infected

On April 22, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a press release which identified UCLA as a site for possible measles exposure. This information came nearly two weeks after an infected student attended class in Franz Hall and Boelter Hall.

Eight faculty members and 119 students were quarantined until they were able to provide proof of vaccination, and all were ultimately released when health officials found no risk of infection.

UCLA notified all students of the situation, and health workers contacted more than 500 people who may have been exposed to the disease.

On May 9, the Los Angeles Times said there had been nine reported cases of measles in Los Angeles County and that Los Angeles was named the second-most vulnerable city to measles nationwide. By July, this number had jumped to 14, but was reportedly not connected to the April UCLA outbreak.

Getting into UCLA is hard. Getting into these UCLA schools is harder.

UCLA had a first-year acceptance rate of 14% in 2018, with the most selective schools including the School of Nursing, Samueli School of Engineering and the School of Theater, Film and Television.

The nursing program is the most competitive, with a 2% acceptance rate for incoming freshman. There were around 3,000 applicants this year for 62 spots – only 51 freshmen and 11 transfers were admitted. It tends to be a more difficult major because the students take the National Council Licensure Examination and become registered to work as nurses right after graduation.

The School of Theater, Film and Television is a close second with a 4% acceptance rate, as it is often ranked within the top-five film schools in the U.S. The application requires three supplemental essays, which allow the students to be more creative than in the general admissions application, according to Caroline Chou, a second-year film student.

The Samueli School of Engineering has a slightly higher acceptance rate, with some majors dropping below 10%. The engineering department is more diverse in their acceptance rates: The most selective major in 2018 was computer engineering, with a 6% acceptance rate, while materials engineering saw a rate of 33.1%.

UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo charged in college admissions bribery scheme

On March 12, it was revealed that UCLA had been involved in a bribery scheme devised to help admit students to universities as student-athletes, despite the students never having played the sport at a competitive level. Jorge Salcedo, the then-UCLA men’s soccer coach, was allegedly involved in the scheme and was immediately placed on leave.

The bribery scheme involved parents paying to have someone take the SAT or ACT for prospective recruits, and these test scores, along with falsified player profile, were sent to UCLA. Salcedo then forwarded fake information on the daughter of Bruce and Davina Isackson to a UCLA women’s soccer coach, and the girl was admitted to UCLA.

UCLA stated at the time that it may cancel admission or take other disciplinary actions against any student who falsified any part of their application to the university. Chancellor Gene Block emphasized that he was unaware of, and appalled by, these crimes.

Salcedo resigned from his position as coach in March, and in August the LA Times revealed that William “Rick” Singer had paid him $100,000 for the admission of a teenager from British Columbia, under the guise of being a student-athlete. In March, Salcedo pled not guilty to racketeering conspiracy, but he was then charged with fraud and bribery in October.

Getty fire reaches 39% containment as most evacuation orders are lifted

On Oct. 28, the Getty fire started about 2 miles from campus. Nearby residents faced road closures, power outages and evacuation orders. By Oct. 31, the fire, which had spread 745 acres, was 39% contained. Around 600 firefighters fought the flames, as the Santa Ana winds and lack of rainfall posed challenges for the firefighters.

Air quality on campus remained moderate for the following days, and a BruinAlert notification warned students of some smoke that had been pushed toward campus because of shifting winds. UCLA students were not required to evacuate, though residents west of the 405 Freeway were not so lucky. In addition, a portion of the southbound 405 was closed. By Oct. 31, most evacuation orders were lifted, and the freeway was reopened.

On Nov. 5, the Los Angeles Fire Department said the fire had been extinguished.

Just three days after the Getty fire broke out, the Hillside fire broke out in San Bernardino County, as well as the Maria fire in Ventura County.

Popularity of brief Uber, Lyft rides on campus raises environmental concerns

Each week, UCLA students call about 11,000 Uber and Lyft rides that remain on campus, raising environmental concerns.

Despite the fact the rides are often short, they produce a large amount of carbon emissions, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, said Yifang Zhu, associate director of the Center for Clean Air and an environmental health sciences professor.

Such emissions can lead to adverse health effects, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, lung disease and premature death, Zhu said.

According to CJ Macklin, a Lyft spokesperson, all Lyft rides are now carbon neutral, as the company has invested millions of dollars in carbon offsets.

There has been conflicting data as to whether or not younger generations are driving less, but the number of cars in Los Angeles dedicated to ride-hailing services continues to contribute to the city’s smog problem.

Sawsan Ezzedin, then-fourth-year English and political science student, said she preferred to sleep later and to get home sooner, so she used ride-hailing apps several times a week to go to class.

UCLA professor emeritus pleads no contest to sexual assault charges

Thomas Fairleigh Denove, a professor emeritus in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, pleaded no contest to two charges of sexual assault of children under 14 years old following his arraignment Nov. 9, 2018.

He was charged under Penal Code 288(a) for one count and for 288.5(a) for two counts. UCLA spokesperson Tod Tamberg said in an emailed statement the university was unaware of the charges until it was reported by the Daily Bruin. Denove retired one month after his arraignment.

On May 21, Denove was sentenced to eight years in prison. He received a six-year sentence for one count of long-term sexual abuse of a child under 14 and an additional two years for performing a lewd act on a child under 14.

UCLA has not provided any updates on Denove’s status as professor emeritus going forward.

Chancellor Gene Block supports switching UCLA to semester system

During week 10 of the 2019 winter quarter, Chancellor Gene Block voiced his support for a switch to the semester system at a meeting with the Daily Bruin editorial board. He said that this would allow for reading days before exams and more time between midterms, ultimately reducing stress for students.

Students had conflicting views on the subject, with some saying the quarter system allowed for more new classes and first days and less time spent in classes they did not like. Others said the quarter system feels rushed and offers less support from professors and TAs.

The debate over a switch to the semester system has been ongoing, with a movement for reversal proposed both in 1985 and 2002. Both movements failed after votes by faculty.

Student captures candid moments through creative videography for Shawn Mendes tour

Connor Brashier, now a third-year psychology student, missed finals week last winter quarter because he was shooting videos for Shawn Mendes’ self-titled world tour, which began March 7 in Amsterdam.

Brashier got his start in lifestyle videography with brands like PacSun and Pura Vida Bracelets, before beginning to film DJs and musicians.

Each concert allows him to express his creativity, capturing different moments to accompany the music. Brashier said that he likes filming concerts because he captures the raw and genuine moments between the performer and the audience.

Brashier said that with his experience, he has learned which moments to capture and which angles to use for different parts of the set. He said that touring with Mendes allowed him to learn from an experienced team and come up with ideas to capture concerts.

Shawn Mendes: The Tour concluded Dec. 21 in Mexico City.

UCLA mathematician helps prove simplified equation discovered by physicists

In November, UCLA mathematician and professor Terence Tao, along with three physicists, discovered a new mathematical equation, which simplifies the once-long calculation of an eigenvector, a mathematical statistic.

The equation provides insight on neutrinos, which have perplexed many in the field. This statistic appears frequently in physics and other scientific fields, said Tao.

The equation will likely have implications in the fields of network science, data science and artificial intelligence.


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