On college admissions...

I did everything “right.” I won national awards in math competitions. I’m a published poet. I graduated from a community college with a 3.98 my junior year in high school. I have a 4.0 at high school and have taken the most rigorous classes available. I basically run a volunteer program with 200 teens. I intern in one of the world’s most prestigious astrophysics labs. I wrote amazing essays and got fantastic letters of recommendation.

And I got rejections. A good amount too. I’m sure there will be more to come. I did everything right and as far as admissions officers are concerned I’m still not good enough. I have no shame or disappointment in my self, but solely in the system.

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For my senior capstone project, I chose to focus on my grandmother’s loss of identity on a biological level (Alzheimer’s) and also on a socio-cultural level.

The piece consists of a large installation made out of a hand-strung fortune cookies (to represent the American imposition of an object upon a culture)  and also book of her recipes that is a direct verbatim transcription of a series of interviews I conducted with her.

I want to say thank you to those who helped with the project. The process has been frustrating, exciting, tiring, emotional, and most importantly cathartic for not only me but for my entire family. I’m super proud of this project and words can’t even express how ecstatic I am to be able to make such a beautiful piece about my grandmother’s story.

Hi everyone. Meet Rachel Beyda, a 20-year-old economics major and philosophy minor at UCLA. On February 10th she was denied a spot on the Judicial Board of UCLA’s student council for being Jewish. Yes, you read correctly. “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” Change the word “Jewish” for black/Muslim/Asian or any other ethnicity and race you can think of. In what world is this acceptable? Nazi Germany perhaps?

In-N-Out

I was remembering this time I went to In-N-Out in Westwood, the drive-thru was always long because this In-N-Out is right across from UCLA so a bunch of students were always there. I remember getting to the window to pay and realizing I forgot my wallet back at the apartment, which was only 5 minutes away. I was embarrassed, but told the guy at the window I’d have to come back for the food. The manager over heard what was going on and he said, “Just take the food and come back to pay after you eat it so it doesn’t cold!” 

I was so amazed by the trustworthiness of this guy, I mean this is Los Angeles, a big city where people are usually stressed, in a hurry, and too busy to care… I could have left and decided he’d never see me again and just go to the In-N-Out on Sunset instead. I remember eating and telling everyone back at the apartment what had happened, being college kids they were like,”Cool! You got free food!”

After I ate I went back to In-N-Out, went inside and paid, even the cashier looked weirded out that I was there. This happened over 5 years ago and I don’t know what made me think of it, but it really makes me happy to know that there are kind people out there. 

On the Evaluation of Rachel Beyda, Candidate for Judicial Board Justice

Given that you’re a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community […] how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view in your position?

– Fabienne Roth, Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) General Representative

Aside from the things you do have listed in your application and your resume, I was just wondering do you see yourself as having any certain specific political affiliations that might in anyway constitute that sort of conflict of interest?

– Morris Sarafian, Director of the Bruin Lobby Corps, UCSA Legislative Director

So my issue is, I’m going to be up front about it, I think she’s clearly great, she’s smart, she knows her stuff, she’s probably going to be a really great lawyer, but I’m not going to pretend and sit here that this isn’t about certain conflict of interest cases, when it think it is every time. I look at these appointments and I feel like we should be working on a way to make sure that we make things better at USAC, and leave a legacy that is not constantly being more divisive towards things, and like I just think this is a super political move, and that really bugs me, and that’s how I see it. I can’t separate that, I’m sorry. It’s not her fault, she’s [inaudible], but she’s got a community that’s very invested in USAC and in very specific outcomes that Judicial boards make decisions on every year, and I can’t separate those two from being, like, not together, and even though she is talented, even though she would be the right person for the job, i just don’t see it as a feasible thing to appoint someone who might take sides, that would, like, be mixed.

– Fabienne Roth

For some reason, I’m not 100% comfortable. I don’t know why. I’ll go through her application again — I’ve been going through it constantly, but I can see that she’s qualified for sure… but I just worry about her political affiliations obviously.

– Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, USAC Transfer Student Representative

The issue isn’t that she’s Jewish, [inaudible], obviously that’s terrible, I would never deny someone something because they’re Jewish or because of antisemitism, but with this specific case, and these are cases we see every year, and this appointment is going to go for years, and I understand the significance of this [Judicial] Board position. I don’t want it to become like, “oh this is because she’s Jewish and you’re antisemitic!” that’s not what it is, at all. 

– Fabienne Roth

The only thing for me is that this particular position, [inaudible] contentiousness around it, is just because of the fact that you are supposed to vote with [inaudible]. I think that, exactly, it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s Jewish, it’s just the fact that you have to somehow maintain a neutral stance. And naturally when you describe yourself as neutral [inaudible], especially if you don’t question this ever, [inaudible] I dunno.

– Manjot Singh, USAC General Representative

This is supposed to be an unbiased position making decisions on keeping us accountable, and us in check, and we are not good at keeping in check because clearly we keep being brought up for [Justice] Board cases for conflicts of interest, and I’d like to know that the people who are keeping the future councilors in check are gonna make sure we try and steer, get right bound, on the correct path of making [inaudible] try and leave a legacy that’s actually about trying to make UCLA better, and move away from constant state puppets. I can’t say that in a delicate way, I can’t.

– Fabienne Roth

[The Judicial] Board uses the USAC definition of conflict of interest, and in the bylaws, it has literally “divided loyalty” or “the appearance of divided loyalty.” Apparently there is an appearance of divided loyalty, people feel that a conflict of interest has been constituted. And I feel like also the fact that she kept giving vague answers when a simple legal analysis [inaudible] kinda shows me that maybe she hasn’t done the right homework. I feel like an “invested interest” [Beyda’s description] is not what USAC bylaw is. I would have just liked if she, I feel like it would have been much better if when asked these conflict of interest questions she gave us the definition that’s the honest truth, I’m not implying that she’s lying, I’m not implying anything i’m just saying she could have given a better answer to the conflict of interest questions.

– Morris Sarafian

The above quotes are all taken from a meeting of the UCLA USAC which occurred on 2/10/15. A full recording of the proceedings may be viewed here, with additional commentary from Ha’Am, UCLA’s Jewish news magazine.

Keep reading

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Girls of color face harsher school discipline than white peers

Girls of color are disproportionately impacted by school discipline policies and excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline, according to a new report authored by UCLA School of Law professors Kimberlé Crenshaw and Jyoti Nanda, along with UCLA Law alumna Priscilla Ocen, a professor at Loyola Law School.

Here’s one powerful example, based on data from schools in Boston and New York City, and published in the report, "Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected": researchers found that suspension rates for black girls when compared to white girls were even higher than those of black boys versus white boys. While black boys are suspended three times more than white boys — a pretty shocking disparity — black girls are suspended a staggering six times more than white girls.

The researchers conclude that the way race, gender, and class issues work to push black girls out of school is tragically under-explored in conversations about racial educational disparities, which tend to focus disproportionately on the experiences of black boys.

"The particular disparities facing Black girls are largely unrecognized in the mainstream discourse about punitive policies in public education," the report’s authors wrote. "Consequently, efforts to confront the challenge of ensuring equitable and fair opportunities for Black girls in school remain underdeveloped."

Read the full Black Girls Matter: Pushed out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected report (which includes proposals  interventions and policies to combat the challenges facing girls of color)here.

via Vox

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UCLA’s Tony Parker compliments sideline reporter on her bracelet during his post game interview

& here’s the Bracelet:

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The Fascinating History of Animation

Long before Pixar and today’s CGI special effects extravaganzas, early animators of the silent era experimented and introduced new techniques into filmmaking. Mark Quigley gives us a tour of the silent animation collection at UCLA’s Film & Television Archive — one of the few places in the world that captures this rich history of early animation.

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What in the Health Is Public Health? Treatment vs. Prevention

(From UCLA Fielding School of Public Health)

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The Science of Pie 2014: Video Highlights

Last spring, the students of the Science & Food undergraduate course at UCLA were challenged to perform a scientific investigation of apple pie and vary different features of the pie such as shape, butter size, and moisture. On July 1, 2014, they presented results from their final projects in poster format and their pies for taste testing at the Science of Pie event, the world’s first scientific bakeoff.  Watch the highlights…

Making the HyperLoop a reality

You may have read recently about the Hyperloop — a high-speed transportation system that may rival flying in an airplane. Construction will start on a test track this year. A group of engineers along with 25 students at UCLA’s School of Architecture will work on a wide array of issues, including route planning, capsule design, and cost analysis.

Craig Hodgetts, a professor at UCLA, while co-lead the team. He says the biggest issue for the Hyperloop is actually being able to weave it into existing urban environments. 

Listen to him discuss the project