As a UCLA administrator and faculty member, I wish to respond to the opinion piece "Putting a Film Protest in Focus: To Change Perceptions, Latinos Must Open Hollywood Doors," by Frank del Olmo, Op-Ed Page, June 26.
Objections to "Animal Attraction" by the Latino community are understandable. Indeed, Chancellor Charles Young has stated that he personally finds the film "offensive, tasteless, and disgusting." These sentiments are also shared by members of the UCLA administration, faculty and student body.
However, despite our personal sympathies, the university and the department of film and television are committed to upholding policies that allow freedom of expression and prevent outright censorship throughout the UCLA community. As a result, the five advising faculty on "Animal Attraction" reported that they provided severe criticism regarding the film's content and approach. But due to faculty conduct codes, professors are never allowed "to coerce the judgment" of any student, no matter how ill-conceived that student's viewpoint might be.
As part of our normal program requirement, the film did receive one public screening on campus with 129 other student works produced this year. The screening was preceded by a disclaimer that advised the audience of the film's offensive content; in addition, ample time was given for audience members to leave the auditorium before the film began. Then, having fulfilled the program requirement and in recognition of community response, the administration asked the student to withdraw his film from a "works in progress" screening on campus the following day. He complied with that request.
The department fully intends to continue active recruitment of qualified diverse faculty and students to reflect the ethnic diversity of Southern California and the many world cultures that contribute to the arts. Of the 322 graduate students currently enrolled, 16% belong to under-represented groups (i.e., African-American, Filipino, Latino or Native American), 21.2% are Asian Pacific and 41% are women.
To date, many UCLA film/TV graduates have gone on to make positive and significant contributions to the film industry. It is most unfortunate that this incident has given a false impression of our efforts to produce talented professionals who will bring balance and diversity to American film making.
of Film and Television