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UCLA Magazine Winter 2002
It's not your parents dorm anymore
Outside the Ivory Tower
A beautiful Mind
The Long March
The New Scientists
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Winter 2002
It's not your parents dorm anymore

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"Students are getting a value-added education by having their academic life happen not just in the classrooms on campus, but also in their residential setting."

Witnessing this mass influx of foot traffic from the surrounding neighborhoods leaves little doubt that UCLA is not only a school where students come to learn, it is a school where students choose to live.

But it was not always this way. Reflecting the car-dependent culture of Los Angeles, UCLA was, for much of the 73-year history of the Westwood campus, a commuter school with a large percentage of its students living at home with their parents and driving to classes each day. Even among those who lived outside the home in private rooms or apartments in, for example, 1961, more than 60 percent resided more than two miles away. A University of California committee on residence halls reported in 1964 "the percentage of students [systemwide] living on or within one-half mile of campus is remarkably consistent — 60 to 70 percent — except at Los Angeles."

UCLA opened its first "high-rise" residence hall, Dykstra, in 1959. At that time, the UCLA Southern Campus yearbook declared "the end of the 40-year 'commuter campus' era." The opening of Dykstra may not have brought on the immediate end of the commuter campus, but it did mark the beginning of the end. In quick succession, Dykstra was followed by Sproul, Rieber and Hedrick halls.

So today the campus once known as the "university on wheels" is increasingly a residential school. To accommodate the growing number of students who want to live on campus — today about one-third of the total of 25,000 undergraduates live in UCLA housing, including more than 7,000 on campus and another 1,000 in nearby university-owned buildings — the university has responded by building more and more residential facilities.

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