Photo by Wikimedia Commons
Inaccessible. Mysterious. Sought-after. Am I describing your latest tinder match or UCLA’s Chancellor Gene Block?
The chancellor’s tradition of sporadically offering 10-minute office hour slots points to more similarities than one might think. Like the myriad of 20-year-olds peppering your inbox, Block’s method of student outreach bespeaks his elusiveness, self-professed popularity, and suspiciously heavy reliance on digital communication for personal connection. Given the rampancy of hook-up culture on college campuses nationwide, are these the values we want espoused by the man who is, in many respects, our fleshy mascot?
Allow us to review the facts. About twice per quarter, the student body receives an email from the chancellor announcing that he will be holding a single “Student Office Hour” during which he will meet one-on-one with students for dialogue on a “broad spectrum” of topics. Every student receives the same templated email, which is rife with allusions to his overwhelming popularity — so much so that a lottery must be held to determine which lucky students will be granted an audience!
The eerie similarities between our chancellor’s student outreach tactics and those of a UCLA sophomore furiously right-swiping on a Saturday night, thumbs sweaty with depravity, begin to reveal themselves.
Consider Block’s unreachability: students must wait for the fateful “Student Office Hour” email to arrive before any type of “IRL meetup” is even imaginable. And Block makes it clear that his “profile,” so to speak, has earned him a lot of “matches” — this email is rife with phrases like “as many students as possible” and apologies for his limited availability. Block asserts that he tries his hardest to make it to all the breakfasts and student events, but he can only give so much to the flocks of students desperate for a glimpse of his snowy dome.
The chancellor goes so far as to openly admit that he limits his meetings to 10 minutes each so as to maximize the number of students he can see. The subtext here is obvious: much like traditional speed dating, the pressure is on to make an impression on a man who positively hoards student attention.
But the tables seemingly turn when it comes to the meetings themselves: for those 10 minutes Gene Block is remarkably present. Elena Torres-Pepito, a second-year economics student who attended the office hour last spring to discuss pedestrian safety on Bruinwalk, described the chancellor’s demeanor during their meeting as “casual and jovial,” noting that Block “did seem receptive” to her concerns.
Alas, this charming everyman act is short-lived. Post-meeting, Block parries his niceties with a technique anyone who is familiar with dating in 2019 will recognize: ghosting.
Students who meet with the chancellor never hear from him again, except via another generic email announcing his Office Hours or new regulations around substance abuse on campus. Just like a party hook-up who was never seen again, students are left to wonder — through tears — was the connection even real?
Make no mistake: Gene Block is as responsible for UCLA’s insecurity-riddled hook-up culture as the men who, after one meetup, suddenly have too many “backpacking trips” to see you again. The next time your inbox has a message from Chancellor Gene D. Block, consider “left-swiping” that email to right where it belongs: the trash.