Saturday, June 15

Editorial: With Bruin Woods closure, UCLA must take additional steps to promote safety

The editorial board is composed of multiple Daily Bruin staff members and is dedicated to publishing informed opinions on issues relevant to students. The board serves as the official voice of the paper and is separate from the newsroom.

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As UCLA students grapple with the closure of Bruin Woods camp in light of allegations of sexual assault and hazing, the camp’s administration must reflect on the significance of addressing such issues proactively and call for lasting reform.

The recent decision to shut down Bruin Woods camp, a family resort at Lake Arrowhead, comes as a response to a lawsuit alleging sexual assault and hazing that has tarnished the camp’s reputation.

The lawsuit, filed by several former camp counselors, seeks damages for the emotional distress and physical harm caused by these incidents. The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial and seeking $50,000 in damages and legal and medical fees.

In court, lawyers for the UC Board of Regents have denied the allegations of negligence against the camp and argued that it could not be held liable for damages. According to court documents uncovered by the Los Angeles Times, the regents claimed that the plaintiffs did not use all the internal administrative processes in place at the camp to address misconduct and grievances.

This disheartening situation has uncovered long-standing concerns regarding the safety and well-being of Bruin Woods camp counselors. The allegations and subsequent closure necessitate a comprehensive examination of the policies and practices in place to ensure the protection and welfare of UCLA community members.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that the camp’s hazing practices, which often involved heavy drinking and forced nudity, had been going on for decades.

In a Daily Bruin article from 1999, a camp counselor, when discussing his experiences at the camp, said, “The whole summer was one big party, like a big frat party.”

“It (being a counselor) takes someone who knows life is a party and who is willing to get naked and swim in the lake,” he added.

These issues have been out in the open for a long time and have demonstrably persisted for decades. It is appalling that lasting, effective measures were not taken years earlier to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

While it is crucial to address the specific allegations against Bruin Woods, it is also important to evaluate the broader campus culture surrounding consent, respect and accountability. This incident highlights the urgent need for improved education and awareness campaigns that foster a safe and inclusive environment at UCLA.

The camp’s administration must take immediate action to investigate the situation and provide necessary relief to the affected individuals. Furthermore, UCLA must promote clear, actionable protocols and policies to prevent instances of sexual assault and hazing from occurring in the future.

A proactive approach involving ongoing training, transparent reporting mechanisms, and a commitment to survivor-centered support services is crucial to rebuilding trust and ensuring the safety of all members of the UCLA community.

It must also be noted that addressing these issues requires collective commitment and collaboration. This is not just an administrative problem or one that is unique to Bruin Woods.

Students, faculty and administrators alike must work in tandem to create an environment in which everyone feels secure and empowered to report incidents and hold perpetrators accountable. Moreover, the university should prioritize open dialogue and active involvement from survivors to develop comprehensive solutions.

As the UCLA community moves forward, the administration must identify weaknesses in its efforts to empower and protect survivors and renew its commitment to a safe and respectful community.

Only through sustained effort and a collective dedication to change can UCLA uphold an environment free from devastating incidents of harassment, assault and hazing.

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