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UCLA Dismayed by Students' Reaction to Tourney Loss

Paul Steinbach

Gonzaga's buzzer-beater win over UCLA in the national semifinals Saturday was the buzz of the college basketball world this weekend. But in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, immediate reaction among UCLA students to the defeat — which ended the Bruins' First Four to Final Four run a game short of tonight's national championship — took an ugly turn.

As reported by CBS Los Angeles, citing The Daily Bruin student newspaper, UCLA students were setting fire to furniture on Roebling Avenue at about 9 p.m. The students then walked south on Kelton Avenue but were blocked by police at Strathmore Drive, near Veteran Avenue. Officers contained the crowd and held rubber bullet guns while the crowd dispersed. Two men were taken into police custody Saturday night in Westwood.

The week saw all-too-typical reaction to both victory and defeat.

From AB: What Feeds Students' Desire to Riot After Wins, Losses?

UCLA students took to the rooftops and streets around campus following the Bruins’ 51-49 victory over top-seeded Michigan in the East Regional final Tuesday that put UCLA in the Final Four for the first time since 2008. Couches were pulled out into streets and set on fire in the school’s fraternity row and a large crowd of students gathered on top of a dormitory building.

CBS reported that a letter was sent to all UCLA students Friday from athletic director Martin Jarmond and Monroe Gorden Jr., UCLA's vice-chancellor for student affairs, encouraging “everyone to watch and celebrate this weekend’s game in a manner that creates a safe and respectful experience for all of our students and fans.”

“After the recent Elite Eight victory, we, unfortunately, witnessed members of our community gathering in large groups, in violation of (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health) guidelines,” the letter said. “Please remember that student violations of LACDPH guidelines may lead to disciplinary action from the UCLA Dean of Students Office.”

The letter also asked students planning to watch CBS’ telecast of the game to “do so responsibly by wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing of 6 feet and washing your hands regularly. Also, it is important to be mindful of guidelines related to the number of individuals who may legally gather together.”

It fell on at least some deaf ears. Many of the students involved in Saturday's misconduct did not wear masks or socially distance, according to The Daily Bruin.

UCLA officials addressed the reaction to the Gonzaga loss, stating additional discipline may come from the university.

“While we share the Bruin community’s disappointment with the outcome of tonight’s game, we are dismayed by those individuals who chose to engage in misconduct and risk their own health and the health of others by gathering in large groups in violation of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines,” UCLA said in a statement issued Saturday.

“For privacy reasons, we cannot comment on any individual UCLA disciplinary matters. But all UCLA students and student organizations are subject to the Student Conduct Code and UCLA Public Health mitigation requirements. Any student or student organization found responsible for a violation is subject to a range of disciplinary actions.”

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