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AROUND TOWN

65 Years of Bruins With Noses for News

March 03, 1995|BEVERLY BEYETTE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a day for remembering. Remembering the flap in the '30s over compulsory ROTC, the furor in the '40s over racial discrimination in athletics, the communist-baiting of the '50s, the anti-apartheid protests of the '80s. . . .

Former staffers of UCLA's Daily Bruin had gathered on campus to form a Daily Bruin Alumni Assn. It was a reunion that bridged 65 years.

Irv Gottschalk, 79, assistant sports editor in 1936, came dressed in true Bruin blue from top to toe. 'My wife wouldn't let me wear my Bruin buttons," he said somewhat apologetically.

Alex Kahn, 84, Daily Bruin city editor in 1929-'30, the school year UCLA moved from Vermont Avenue to Westwood, came with memories of the Bruin's campaign for a real gym to replace "a rickety old wooden shack."

Eight former Daily Bruin editors in chief turned up, among them Brian Weiss, editor in 1968 when, Vietnam "was the issue." He appeared that June on the cover of Time, wearing a peace pendant over his robe and symbolizing "The Graduate 1968."

"His voice is amplified more loudly than most since it is reflected in the Daily Bruin (circulation 18,000)," Time wrote. "Weiss has made such an impact as editor of the paper that many call it the Daily Brian."

So here he was 27 years later, flipping through his bound copies of the 1968 Bruin, smiling as he recalled accusing then-Gov. Ronald Reagan of being a liar, of manipulating budget figures to disguise tuition hikes.

Weiss' Daily Bruin raged against the war and the draft. But Buddy Epstein, a sportswriter then, recalled, too, that it was the golden era of Bruin basketball, the championship years, the Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) years. "That was the only thing that overshadowed any of the political stuff."

Robert Weil, 1942 editor, delighted in remembering how he'd "get the poly sci professor so mad he'd stand up in class and wave the paper and say, 'What kind of an idiot is doing this?' "

One of Weil's coups: prodding the student council to ban UCLA athletic teams from playing teams that discriminated against UCLA's black athletes.

Weil had been outraged to learn that UCLA wouldn't spend the money to take its two or three black football players to a game at University of Florida because they wouldn't be allowed to stay in the team hotel, play in the game or even sit on the team bench.

His protest earned him visits from coaches, alumni and administration. But school policy was changed.

*

By comparison, her tenure seems "a little dry and boring," said Matea Gold, 20, current Daily Bruin editor. Still, there are moments, such as when "we ran a picture of two men kissing on the front page" and kicked up a fuss.

That the newspaper is editorially independent today is a tribute, she said, to the editors who came before and "all the battles that were fought."

Patti Sullivan Kellems, a Daily Bruin sportswriter in the '70's--the first of the women to get into Pauley Pavilion's locker room--recalled Watergate and "people realizing maybe government isn't holier than thou." Of course, Kellems added, "Haldeman was one of ours."

There were battles, and battles. Among them: 1971's "coffee crusade," wherein the Daily Bruin gave away coffee to protest a price hike from a nickel to 15 cents. As one former staffer said, "The Daily Bruin staff was probably buying the most coffee."

Chandler Harris, 80, editor in 1935, described a major standoff with UC officials over students' demand for an open forum to debate issues of the day, including alleged communist activities on campus.

The student body president and three council members were kicked out, but later reinstated. "The University got the reputation of being a little red schoolhouse and it stuck to us for a long time," Harris said.

Because UCLA has no journalism major, the Daily Bruin is an extracurricular activity. "Everyone was always on academic probation," said Jean Kilian, a staffer in 1951-'52, and during those times strange pseudonyms would appear on the Bruin's pages.

Marvin Kleinberg, night editor in 1945, recalled: "A lot of women were put on the Bruin in positions of responsibility" during World War II. He remembered, too, a crusading sports editor named Bill Stout. Other notable Bruin alumni include Frank Mankiewicz and "Good Morning America's" Joel Siegel.

Liz McDannel, senior staff writer, 1965-'67, and president of the fledgling alumni group, said one impetus for organizing is "so the UCLA Daily Bruin can claim to have a better alumni support group than that other paper"--the Daily Trojan, or some such name. The group will also explore funding of journalism fellowships and a mentor program.

*

Old-timers touring Daily Bruin offices in Kerckhoff Hall were stunned. Where was the clicking of Teletype machines? The clacking of typewriters? "This is not the Bruin I knew," said one, absorbing the stats: Circulation, 20,000. Staff, 150. Annual editorial budget, $186,000.

And those former staffers, where are they now?

Alex Kahn retired from United Press International in 1973, after 40 years.

Brian Weiss worked for Psychology Today and is a Santa Monica-based free-lance writer/editor.

Buddy Epstein, an attorney, lives in Venice.

Irv Gottschalk, retired, worked in a number of fields from aerospace to real estate. He lives in West L.A.

Marvin Kleinberg took his degree in physics and is now a patent attorney. He lives in Sherman Oaks.

Chandler Harris is director emeritus of public information for UCLA. Retired since 1982, he lives in the Hollywood Hills.

Jean Kilian of Reseda used her Daily Bruin skills writing PTA newsletters. "There was no room for women" in the field in the early '50s, she said.

Patti Kellems works for Unocal 76, where one of her jobs is writing brochures.

Liz McDannel lives in Torrance and works for Southern California Edison.

Robert Weil was an Associated Press correspondent in Europe before going to law school. He is a retired Superior Court judge and lives in West L.A.

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