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AIIIIEEEEE! : Late-Night Noise Tests Patience Around UCLA

March 25, 1993|LISA KLUG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WESTWOOD — It's final exam period at UCLA--and that means the Midnight Yell is back.

When the clock strikes 12, thousands of students climb on dorm roofs and open windows to scream, curse, blast their stereos and light firecrackers.

It's all part of the UCLA tradition. Sometimes the hullabaloo goes on for 15 minutes.

The neighbors are unamused.

"It may feel good, but is it part of their freedom of expression to come over and punch people in the face because it feels good?" said Alvin Milder, university liaison for the Westwood Hills Property Owners Assn. and chairman of UCLA Watch, a coalition of local homeowner groups. "That's very childish."

Milder, who lives one block west of the UCLA campus, said he has been complaining to the university during every set of final exams for the past five years to no avail. This week he has heard the explosion of cacophony every night. "You can set your clock by it," he said.

In recent years, in response to complaints by Milder and other residents, the university has tried to curb the pandemonium, at least in the dorms. (The university has little power to control yellers at fraternities, sororities and off-campus apartments.)

During finals week, residence assistants walk the dormitory hallways and patrol outside to nab violators of excessive-noise rules that students agree to when they move into a dorm. The yellers typically get slapped with an afternoon of planning dormitory events, working in the cafeteria or cleaning up the grounds, said resident assistant Mark Mulholland.

Chronic rule-breakers can, in theory, be evicted from the dorms.

The deterrent effect seems limited, however.

"I guess I could yell into a pillow, but it's not the same satisfaction," said Rieber Hall resident Kalel Sallas, 19. "Everybody is stressed out from finals, and it's a great way to get it all out."

In one dorm this week, many bedroom doors were plastered with copies of a recent opinion article in the campus newspaper, The Daily Bruin, urging students to ignore official efforts to stifle their screams.

"Screaming at midnight is not a crime; it is a campus pastime," history major James Pitts wrote. "It helps us get by in a world full of stress and strain, and it is just about the only thing most people in this divided campus do together."

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