Tag Archives: UCLA

Ice Blocking

Main piece:

(The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.)

Interviewer: Tell me about ice blocking, if you don’t mind.

Informant: Okay, ice blockiiiiiiiiiiing, is a thing at – I don’t know uhh… Okay. At UCLA we have like a – not really like the typical college quad, but we have Jan’s Hill which is like – not even a central part of campus but just like – the most grassy open place you can sit, and it’s just, like a hill near Royce which is like, the iconic building of UCLA. That’s where people like sit in-between classes during the day and have picnics and stuff, but at night, a lot of people in like, clubs or just like as a group of friends will go and do something called “ice blocking” which is… people will go to Ralph’s and get like a big block of ice that’s like… a foot long and six inches tall and wide – and then you go to this hill, you start at the top – and you sit on it, and you just slide down the hill on the ice as far as you can. I don’t know who thought of this first or where it started but the first time I did it was like, as a part of my sorority, and then – once you like, have done ice blocking it just seems so obvious to do it and you just ask people if they’ve done it and their like “What? No!” or they’re like “Obviously” and it’s just like shows whether someone has really gotten the like full UCLA experience or not. Cause then if they haven’t done it you can be like, “Oh then we should go sometime!” I’ve only ever done it twice, once with sorority and once with ADPI [Alpha Delta Pi]. But it’s… Oh those are the same things – once with sorority and once with my apartment’s – when we first all moved in together. So it’s just like something silly to do. And… it seems kind of hard to sit on this block of ice but – you have to sit on it so that it’s long-ways down and not wide and then you can use a towel so your butt doesn’t get so wet, but then in the summer it’s better to not because it’s hot and you want to be cooled down anyway. And then you just – have to put your feet up in a little like, ball position and then you just slide as far as you can but you have to stop before you hit the bushes or else… you’d be pretty screwed. And with my roommates one tried to do it standing up like surfing and they did like – literally somersaults down the whole hill. 

Interviewer: …Who was that? (laughing)

Informant: (Laughing) It was [name redacted]!

Interviewer: Oh my god.

Informant: And also [name redacted], I think, maybe.

Interviewer: That’s crazy.

Informant: I don’t know what else to say about it really.

Interviewer: Oh no that’s cool, you can just- is there anything like…

Informant: (sighs) it’s not a competition, really, because you only ever have like – well, i guess – actually I’ve seen-

Interviewer: Is it for like special occasions?

Informant: Yeah. Like for sorority, we did it like, as one of our first bonding activities when we all joined. And then for like, my roommates we did it as the celebration of us all moving in to our new apartment. So a lot of clubs do it as like a bonding activity I feel like.

Interviewer: …Is it allowed?

Informant: It’s not not allowed. No one’s ever been stopped for it. Like people also will have picnics where they drink on that hill and that’s not allowed because it’s a dry campus but they still do that anyway- and often… the two activities will be combined. (laughing)

Interviewer: (laughing)

Background: My informant is Senior in College who grew up in Southern and then Northern Illinois. She comes from a family of middle-class background. She goes to UCLA, and therefore has adopted a mix of midwest and west coast folklore.

Context: The informant is my sister, and she gave me this piece in a more research oriented setting, as she was the first person I collected from and I was determining the best way to go about the process still. She was very loose by this point in our long conversation, and our conversations always include humor.

Thoughts: This is a good example of a piece of folklore (specifically a tradition – maybe even an initiation ritual, though that categorization is a little more of a stretch) that seems absurd from the outside. At least, from my perspective, knowing nothing about the steepness of this hill especially, this activity sounds either rather boring and weird or entirely too dangerous. Apparently though, it is a common activity on any given night at UCLA, and I’m sure if I went there I would be all for it.

UCLA Steps

There’s a big set of steps on campus, these stairs they’re called Jan’s steps and the myth or the legend is that you can’t step on the fourth step from the bottom and that every time you step on that step you’ll be in college for one more year.

My informant learned this piece of folklore through a sorority at the University of California Los Angeles. She told me this along with other superstitions and traditions about college while we and some friends were discussing it. She did not actively participate in this practice, it was just one superstition that she heard.

The UCLA toilet

Okay so it’s outside the psychology department, there’s a fountain but it’s a reverse fountain so instead of the water shooting up, the water drains down so it like spins and it goes down. If you stand in a certain area it’s right behind a tall building that has a bridge so if you look at it and the hole that goes down towards the back and so once it was built people realized that it looks like a toilet flushing.And they said that they found out the designer was a trojan.

My informant learned this piece of folklore through a sorority at UCLA. She experienced looking at this fountain and saw that it ended looked like a toilet. She told me this as we were discussing college traditions and rivalries. I found this piece of information funny. As a student at UCLA’s rival school it was nice to know that this rivalry goes way back and that the legacy of both schools live on. We also got to share a bond, even though we are from rival schools.

Slang about UCLA

Context: The informant is a young professional who graduated from UCLA in 2012.  She relays that the acronym for her school had the unofficial meaning of the “University of Cute Little Asians”.

Analysis: A quick search of the UCLA website’s enrollment statistics shows that the ethnic category with the highest enrollment is those who have checked the “Asian/Pacific Islander” box, at 34.8% of total students; the next largest group is white students at 27.8%. The informant herself is not white, nor did she elaborate on whether or not she used the term in her own conversations, but she did confirm that at her time at UCLA, a large portion of the students she saw on a daily basis appeared to be of Asian descent.

The term therefore seems to be a somewhat racist comment on the high population of Asian-descent students at UCLA, combined with the well-worn stereotype that those of East Asian ancestry are shorter in stature than white people, and the fetishization of Asians, particularly Asian women, with the term “cute”.

A somewhat related term I have heard during my time at USC is “University of Spoiled Children”, quite obviously referring to the stereotype of most USC students being rich and white, and a good many of them “legacy” students, meaning an older family member also attended. This view, however distasteful to some, is actually rather true: USC’s student body is 39% white (the next biggest group, 23%, is Asian). And according to an LA Times article, “the percentage of USC students [whose family income is] over $200,000…is more than twice as high as [UCLA]’s”.

I have also heard the much less controversial and more humorous “University of Summer Construction” (but not just summer anymore–I have been a student since the fall of 2010, and there has been some sort of constrution, modification, addition, or repairing going on every single semester along the commonest routes I take across campus).

Joke – University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

A guy walks into a bar, sits down and has a couple of drinks.  Trying to start up conversation, he turns to the guy a few seats away sitting with his friends and says,

“Hey, you want to hear a UCLA joke?”

The man replies, “You know, I played football at UCLA as wide receiver and I don’t really wanna hear that.”

So the first man says, “Well what about your friends?”

The second man says, “Well, this guy played Linebacker at UCLA, he’s about 6’2” 230 pounds. I don’t think he wants to hear it.  And that guy played Defensive Tackle at UCLA, he’s 6’4” 280 pounds and he doesn’t want to hear it… so, do you still want to tell the joke?”

The first man says, “Nah, no thanks. I don’t want to explain it three times.”

Barry informed me that he first learned this joke while he was a student at USC in the 70s.  The background for the joke is that UCLA and USC have a heated rivalry in sports and academics, as both schools are located in the greater Los Angeles area and are very similar.  Barry explained that the joke just symbolized the intense competition between the Trojans of USC and the Bruins of UCLA.

While this joke may not represent an entire country or region’s ideas, it is still considered folklore as the folk in this case are USC students, alums, faculty, and fans in general.  Sports teams are usually followed by a large group of people who bleed their team’s colors and share a large hatred for their team’s rivals.  This same hatred between two groups is seen across many different groups and helps bind them together to create their own folklore.  Some other examples may be rival countries, states, gangs, religious groups, and many other groups as well.

Annotation:  This joke was found at:

http://lexicon.typepad.com/lexicon/usc_football/index.html

Joke – University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

“How come the Bruins haven’t dumped ice on their coach this century?

Because the guy who knew the recipe graduated.”

Barry informed me that he first learned this joke while he was a student in high school.  His father and mother are University of Southern California alums so they raised Barry to be a USC football fan.  The background for the joke is that UCLA and USC have a heated rivalry in sports and academics, as both schools are located in the greater Los Angeles area and are very similar.  Also, the ice being alluded to in this joke represents the ritual that football players will douse their coach with the ice and water that is found in their coolers.  Barry explained that the joke just symbolized the intense competition between the Trojans of USC and the Bruins of UCLA.

While this joke may not represent an entire country or region’s ideas, it is still considered folklore as the folk in this case are USC students, alums, faculty, and fans in general.  Sports teams are usually followed by a large group of people who bleed their team’s colors and share a large hatred for their team’s rivals.  This same hatred between two groups is seen across many different groups and helps bind them together to create their own folklore.  Some other examples may be rival countries, states, gangs, religious groups, and many other groups as well.