In his annual address to new students, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block not only praised the newest Bruins for reaching an important milestone, but he also encouraged them to embrace the diversity of ideas they will be exposed to, even when those ideas challenge them.
“I ask that all of you aspire to create a community that will help each of you grow and achieve all that you want while you’re here,” he said during Saturday’s address in Pauley Pavilion. “It will not be a community where everyone agrees. And that’s fine. I know we were all deeply troubled this summer by the events in Charlottesville, a place I called home for 29 years and where I raised my family. The hatred, racism and anti-Semitism America witnessed reminds us all that intolerance and racism are continuing issues in our society. But we will stand up to that, together.”
Block’s speech was part of the opening weekend of True Bruin Welcome, a jam-packed week of mixers, orientations, concerts, networking events and tours that, for the first time ever, included a block party in Westwood Village.
Block noted that the newest students were selected from among 102,000 freshman applicants and 22,000 transfer applicants, and that they hail from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and 93 other countries. Some are military veterans, others grew up in foster care and some are parents themselves.
“Twenty-one percent are … like me … the first generation in their families to attend college,” Block said to the crowd, which packed Pauley’s floor and most of the lower bowl. “The diversity and perspectives you bring have made UCLA what we are: a top public university and one of the very best in the world. UCLA is lucky to have you.”