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UCLA welcome event celebrates new students, Gene Block’s final year

Pictured is Chancellor Gene Block speaking in a meeting. Block also spoke at the welcome event Sept. 24. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Christopher Mancini

Oct. 3, 2023 9:41 p.m.

UCLA hosted a welcome event for new students at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Sept. 24.

UCLA hosted thousands of new students for speeches from Chancellor Gene Block and USAC President Naomi Hammonds and performances from the UCLA Bruin Marching Band and the UCLA Spirit Squad. To begin the event in his final chancellor welcome before retirement, Block gave a speech that highlighted the experience and struggles of incoming students.

In his speech, Block said he was excited to welcome the most diverse class of all time to the university.

“One of the strengths of this institution is the diversity of the student body that comes here to study,” Block said.

Various students commented on the diversity of the student body that was represented during the welcome event.

Jay Taimish, a first-year human biology and society student, said the bustling atmosphere during move-in surprised him because it differed significantly from the small town he grew up in.

“I walked in, and it was crowded and lively,” Taimish said. “There were so many people and so many people to talk to.”

As a student who is venturing away from his home in a suburb of Toronto, he said UCLA has distinct differences and similarities to his small high school.

Despite having just arrived on campus, some new students have already involved themselves in clubs. First-year mathematics student Jesse Chi said his experiences in the UCLA marching band during his first days on campus were particularly impactful because despite playing the trumpet for several years, it is his first time in a marching band.

Later on in the event, several UCLA employees greeted audience members with cardboard cutouts of the face of Chancellor Block, who is entering his final year as UCLA’s chancellor.

[Related: UCLA Chancellor Gene Block announces 2024 retirement]

After Chancellor Block’s speech, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Monroe Gordon also announced that the traditional Block Party was renamed the Gene Block Party in recognition of his over 17 years of service at UCLA.

Tara Izadi, a fourth-year biology student and resident assistant for Rieber Hall, said the announcement was a memorable moment for her residents and one she really enjoyed.

“It’s just a really good pun that I wasn’t really expecting at that moment,” she said. “It’s really funny to hear everyone laughing and then all of my residents chanting, ‘Gene! Gene! Gene!’”

While many of the freshmen were swept up in the emotion of the chanting, others were contemplative about the future. Taimish said he wondered about the future and what his place could be among the thousands in attendance.

“It doesn’t feel like I’m in college yet,” Taimish said. “It’s been interesting just trying to figure out where I fit here.”

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