As classes start today, UCLA is welcoming its biggest group of “new” students in its 102-year history. Following an academic year in which virtually all operations were conducted remotely, a combined 20,000 freshmen, sophomores and transfer students are now setting foot on these 419 acres in Westwood for the first time as official Bruins.

While for them everything — from their first class to getting their BruinCards to doing an eight-clap — will be new, even returning students, faculty and staff will notice some important changes that have remade campus life for the better.

While Bruins were away, UCLA added:

  • Two new residence halls. The Olympic and Centennial halls join the thriving nexus of student life on the Hill and bring UCLA closer to fulfilling its promise of providing four years of UCLA housing to any first-year student who wants it — or two years to any transfer student.
  • The Black Bruin Resource Center. This is a dedicated space for Black students, faculty and staff in Kerckhoff Hall that UCLA administrators and students teamed up to create as a new campus hub for Black life on campus.
  • Food delivery robots.

Even with the expansion and enhancement of our campus, health and safety naturally remain top of mind for all Bruins, students and campus leadership alike.

“We begin this academic year with great optimism about the widespread return to in-person activities, yet we must also remain cognizant of the continued impacts and evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chancellor Gene Block said in a message to the entire campus community.

As part of the efforts to safeguard the health of the campus community, UCLA, like all University of California campuses, now requires vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff living teaching or working on campus, with limited medical and religions exceptions. All students living in on-campus housing must be fully vaccinated.

Further, UCLA has instituted important protocols and procedures addressing COVID-19 prevention, symptom monitoring, contract tracing and quarantining, among other topics, and, when appropriate, has offered employees hybrid work schedules to reduce campus density.

Free COVID-19 tests, available throughout campus in vending machines and a few walk-up locations, are strongly recommended for all vaccinated students, faculty and staff; those with vaccination exceptions will be required to test twice a week. In compliance with local public health regulations, face coverings are required indoors at all times for everyone, including those who are vaccinated.  

During the fall quarter, approximately 80% of courses will be offered in person, as well as most labs. The largest lecture classes will primarily be conducted remotely, with most of the corresponding discussion sections held in person.

UCLA’s return to campus page and COVID-19 information website will continue to provide updates on federal, state and local health regulations, as well as any changes in campus operations.

While stressing the importance of our shared commitment to health and safety protocols, campus leaders, staff and student groups are also doing everything they can to remind students just how special becoming a Bruin — and enjoying a robust on-campus experience — is.

A slew of True Bruin Welcome events, including hundreds of open houses, information sessions and community-building events and activities, can be found on the community calendar. Highlights include:

  • Interactive display: Tovaangar. UCLA’s campus sits upon Tovaangar, the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples, and acknowledging this history is a core value of being a Bruin. This display will be in place at Shapiro Fountain through Sept. 26.
  • Volunteer Day. Students will get their first experience of why service is in the DNA of being a Bruin with a volunteer effort that encompasses 39 sites in the Los Angeles area and 46 worldwide. Throughout Volunteer Day’s 13 years, UCLA students, staff, faculty and alumni have contributed more than 321,644 service hours, at an estimated value of more than $8.2 million dollars.
  • First-gen welcome soiree. This event brings together first-generation undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and allies. There will be a keynote speaker, networking tables, resource booths, small bites and giveaways. The soiree happens on Sept. 28, from 5–7 p.m., in Carnsale Palisades Ballroom.

“After many difficult months, it is deeply gratifying to welcome many of you to campus for the start of this academic year,” Block said. “I wish you nothing but success in the coming year. Good luck, be well and go Bruins!”