UCLA Closes Alumni Summer Camp Amid Assault, Hazing Allegations

Two students who worked at Bruin Woods Family Camp said they were hazed and sexually assaulted and that it’s been happening at the retreat program for decades.

UCLA Closes Alumni Summer Camp Amid Assault, Hazing Allegations

Photo: gguy, Adobe Stock

LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. — The University of California, Los Angeles, has temporarily closed its summer camp for alumni families after two student employees claim they were hazed and assaulted while working.

Bruin Woods Family Camp program, held at the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge Property that spans 50 acres, was established in 1985 as a retreat where UCLA alumni could “reconnect with their alma mater and introduce their families” to school traditions. The camp runs for 10 consecutive weeks each summer with up to 80 families attending each week, according to its website.  

In addition to year-round lodge employees that run the camp’s operational departments, 54 UCLA students are employed each summer to help run the program. In October, UCLA students Samea Derrick and Lydia Dixon filed a lawsuit claiming they were sexually assaulted and hazed by returning student counselors, reports The LA Times. The allegations include physical and verbal abuse, sensory deprivation, forced nudity, and coercive drinking games. The lawsuit also alleges the hazing activities, referred to by counselors as “traditions,” have taken place for decades at the camp.

The suit was filed against both the camp and the University of California Board of Regents in order to “hold the institution accountable for failing to protect its staff and fostering a toxic and dangerous workplace for young people that has been an open secret for decades,” according to a statement from Greene Broillet & Wheeler LLP, the firm that filed the lawsuit.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are two men accused of sexually assaulting the students. The suit alleges negligence, civil rights violations, hazing, gender-based violence, two cases of assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, $50,000 in damages, and compensation for legal fees and medical expenses.

“We are aware of allegations of inappropriate activity concerning our Bruin Woods program, and continue to look into the matter,” UCLA spokesperson Margery Grey said in a statement to The Times. “We are also making changes in an effort to provide an exceptional experience for everyone.”  

According to court documents filed in November in response to the lawsuit, the UC regents denied the allegations and said the board was not liable for damages. Attorneys for the California school system said the plaintiffs “failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to them through the University of California’s established internal grievance procedures.”

UCLA says the venue is still open to alumni and their families but the school will not offer its usual programming since there will be no student counselors.

“I think the suspension of operations at Bruin Woods is a clear signal that the regents are taking the allegations seriously, and it’s a first step toward accountability and the prevention of future harm,” said attorney Scott Carr, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Derrick and Dixon. He also said he hoped the suspension was “a catalyst for change in creating a safe and healthy environment for employees and attendees of the camp.”

The case is set to go to trial on Feb. 8.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author

amy rock headshot
Contact:

Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo