The UCLA Volunteer Center, a major participant in an annual neighborhood clean-up day, may withdraw staff support from the .
The university's retreat from the event, dubbed WOMP, would be a big "womp womp," Westwood neighborhood organizations say.
The Westwood Organized Mega Project, a day of volunteer service and beautification in Westwood Village, is joint collaboration between the UCLA Volunteer Center, the Westwood Community Council and other local organizations and merchants. The and more than 700 UCLA students participated.
In the last week, the Westwood Neighborhood Council, Westwood Community Council and the Westwood Homeowners Associations passed a resolution urging UCLA Chancellor Gene Block to continue making WOMP a yearly tradition. Members of the Westwood Neighborhood Council said they were told during the WOMP event this year that the service day would not be part of the UCLA Volunteer Center's programming for the following year, citing time constraints.
Steve Sann, chair of the Westwood Community Council, said the UCLA Volunteer Center only needs to commit staff time to organize student participation in the event. The supplies needed for the event are either donated or raised by the community.
"We knew they had no money to put in it," Sann told the Westwood Neighborhood Council. "We raise 100 percent of the money, lunches, breakfasts, T-shirts, water, trees, paint. UCLA committed to be the gateway so that students, staff and faculty can participate."
Vincent Wong, assistant director of UCLA Government and Community Relations which houses the Volunteer Center, attended the meeting and told the council the office may lack the staff resources to coordinate student participation in the event. He said the Volunteer Center has been downsized to one full-time staff member.
"We are not exiting Westwood in any way shape or form, we are not backing out of our commitment to Westwood," Wong told the Westwood Neighborhood Council. "It just may or may not be in this same iteration that is based on our ability to dedicate staff and money."
Several phone calls to the office requesting information about the UCLA Volunteer Center's participation in future WOMPs were not returned.
Sann said WOMP would continue whether or not UCLA is involved, but members of both councils lamented the loss of the university's participation.
"I see so little required because the community does 95 percent of the work," said Wolfgang Veith, a North Village resident and Westwood Community Council member. "There’s no excuse that UCLA wants to change what they have done so far."
Westwood Neighborhood Council member Lisa Chapman said she was disappointed that UCLA may not give back to the community just outside its grounds.
"Are we the doormat to UCLA or the foyer?" she said.
Should UCLA stay involved in WOMP? Should the event go on with or without the support of the UCLA Volunteer Center? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.