Two Cultures? – Michael Chen

Yes, there are multiple cultures at UCLA.

There is not, however, a distinct one-two divide.  Like every quandary, there exists a gray area in between.

The multiplicity of cultures is not strictly a “North Campus/South Campus” divide, as discussed in the Daily Bruin on what appears to be a somewhat annual basis.  This ostensibly black-and-white divide does exist.  Like many have observed, and some writers stated in articles, this perceived divide is partially the result of stereotyping.  North Campus students are party-going fun-loving slackers who enjoy life, while South Campus majors are less-outgoing, introverted bookworms with glasses.  North Campus majors are more likely to have their own activities going on, not necessarily completely related to school, while South Campus students can be found at “typical” college activities, such as school sports games and the like.

These, however, are not the two cultures.  While the campus divide is somewhat prevalent, there are more than enough of cross-culture experiences among students and faculty that a generalized division between categories of fields of study does not apply.  There are plenty of dual majors who have majors based on both campuses, and many students attend classes outside of their field of study in pursuit of other interests.

Instead, there is a difference of involvement.  Some students are extremely involved at UCLA, participating in clubs, going to school events, and make themselves aware of everything they can going on on and off campus, while others seem to care very little for school-related happenings, only becoming aware of what affects them directly.  A third group exists in between, somewhat involved but only interested in select things.  This third group is perhaps the largest, though it is the least visible.  The most visible groups are the first two, the one that is super-involved, and the one that is not involved at all.

The two visible “cultures” are also stereotyped; the involved are believed to hail from South Campus, and the disinterested from North Campus- where they have their own activities often unrelated to the rest of the school.  The disinterested are apathetic, and often dismiss These stereotypes are painfully inaccurate, but at the same time stereotypes exist for a reason- many of the disinterested types are indeed from North Campus, but there are always enough so-called “exceptions” that allow each stereotype to be debunked.

This does not, however, mean that everyone is of the same culture at UCLA.  Sure, everyone is a member of the same world class university, but the level of involvement (or apathy) creates enough of a separation to the point where I believe the different groups to be distinct and separate.  The third culture is the largest, and perhaps the most important, as it is the bulk of the student body, but the visible ones do not play small roles on campus.  They shape the perceptions of campus life, and perception often becomes reality.


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