A few UCLA students have started a Facebook page to campaign against the university's choice of OC Weekly writer and author Gustavo Arellano as the College of Letters and Science's commencement speaker next month. So far the “Bruins Against Gustavo Arellano for UCLA 2010 commencement speaker” group has 327 members.
“We can do better,” the Facebook page reads, “we are in Los Angeles for goodness sakes. Why can't we get someone more famous?? Don't get me wrong, he's made a name for himself and is very accomplished. However, our school gets the most applications of any other school in the nation, our speaker needs to be THE BEST!”
Arellano fanned the flames of dissent himself by posting a YouTube video containing audio from a voicemail message he received, apparently from a disgruntled parent:
“No one wants to listen to you,” she says. “You have done nothing of significance. You are not a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. You have done nothing that these kids can look up to.”
Arellano's sometimes acerbic ¡Ask a Mexican! column appears in 35 newspapers nationwide and is exposed to an audience of two million; he has written two books, including a history of Orange County; and he holds a master's degree from UCLA. The column often skewers racists and immigrant-bashers and knocks down their logic with scholarly data.
Strangely, it was almost at the same time last year that actor and UCLA alumnus James Franco was pressured to pull out of his commencement-address gig at the school, with critics on campus saying he was too Hollywood and too shallow to have anything deep to say to the graduating class.
OC Weekly is a sister publication of LA Weekly.