My last two posts were about choosing priorities in challenging times, so I really wanted to avoid finding fault with UCLA's administration, at least for a while. But sometimes something comes along and smacks you in the face like a story in Monday's Daily Bruin did for me. And that's saying something, since I don't know yet what, if any, role the administration has in the latest round of bad news.
It turns out that a class at UCLA did a "safety audit" on campus and identified "eight unsafe 'hotspots.'" And, in fact, the class has put up a website identifying those places. (I can't find the website's URL, which the Daily Bruin doesn't give, in a Google search. But it probably doesn't matter, since the DB does a good job of identifying the areas on campus.)
Anyway, to cut to the chase and say what we all agree on, issues of safety and acts of violence, including sexual assaults, are totally unacceptable on campus. (They're unacceptable anywhere, of course, but it's easier in a post on BN to talk about UCLA.) And I understand that just because 10 students have identified "hotspots" on campus doesn't necessarily mean they're right.
The Daily Bruin story goes on to say, "University officials declined to comment about the specific details of the audit because they have not had a chance to look at the website in depth." FWIW, it seems to me that, at least to this point, it's reasonable to say "fair enough."
But here's the thing. If the students' concerns are valid, we ought to hold officials to account until the "hotspots" cease to exist. Here's what won't wash: any reference to budget constraints. And none of this touches on another dimension; namely, how UCLA compares with other schools in the U.S. (It would probably take someone with an extensive background in these issues to make an adequate comparison.)
Getting back to the issue at hand, two people mentioned in the Daily Bruin story seem to have a special significance: Christine Littleton, the vice provost for UCLA diversity and faculty development, and Nancy Greenstein, a university police spokeswoman. According to the DB, Professor Jacqueline Leavitt, who led the honors class, "shared the website with Ms. Littleton." And meanwhile, Ms. Greenstein has asked to meet with the class.
The email for Ms. Littleton is available on Google, and I think the same is probably true for Ms. Greenstein. I'm hesitant to publish email addresses, but in the next four to six weeks, I'll try to send an email - politely worded, of course - to Ms. Littleton and Ms. Greenstein, asking about the status of their investigation. I hope others on Bruins Nation do the same thing.