UCLA’s Bruin Woods camp closed for summer amid sexual assault and hazing allegations

Silhouette of two people walking beneath a tree and in front of a "Go, Bruins" sign on a campus.
The UCLA campus.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s Bruin Woods camp will be closed for the summer as the school faces allegations of hazing traditions and sexual assault from two students who worked at the Lake Arrowhead getaway, officials confirmed to The Times on Thursday.

The 10-week camp, which hosts 85 alumni families each week, notified participants about the closure Friday.

“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.”


Grey said the suspension was necessary to “fully update our operations.” She did not immediately know what specific changes officials were making at the camp, or whether the camp would resume operations for the 2024 summer.

Two UCLA students filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually assaulted and subject to hazing while working at Bruin Woods, a Lake Arrowhead camp for alumni and their families.

Oct. 20, 2022

The temporary closure comes months after UCLA students Samea Derrick and Lydia Dixon, who worked at the camp last summer, filed a lawsuit against the University of California regents in October.

In the lawsuit and in previous interviews with The Times, the pair alleged they were sexually assaulted and hazed by returning student counselors, including physical and verbal abuse, sensory deprivation, forced nudity and coercive drinking games. The lawsuit also alleged that the hazing activities, referred to by counselors as “traditions,” had taken place for decades at the camp, which was established in 1985 for UCLA alumni and their families.

Other camp counselors, including two men accused of sexually assaulting the students, were also named as defendants. The suit alleges negligence, civil rights violations, hazing, gender-based violence, two cases of assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks a jury trial, $50,000 in damages and compensation for legal fees and medical expenses.

The 65-year-old had been charged with 21 felony counts, but was found guilty of only five. He was found not guilty of seven other counts and the jury deadlocked on nine other sex-related charges.

Oct. 20, 2022

Despite UCLA’s commitment to changes at the camp, the UC regents have denied the allegations and said the board was not liable for damages, according court documents they filed in November in response to the lawsuit. Attorneys for the university system said Derrick and Dixon “failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to them through the University of California’s established internal grievance procedures.”

The Board of Regents also alleged in court documents that it had taken “prompt and appropriate corrective actions” in response to the students’ concerns.


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

Bruin Woods relies on the more than 50 UCLA students who serve as camp counselors each summer. The positions are coveted among students, given the networking opportunities with alumni, and often draw a large pool of applicants.

The University of California will pay $374 million to settle more sexual abuse suits involving UCLA gynecologist James Heaps, bringing total to $700 million.

May 24, 2022

It was unclear whether the camp had hired new student workers before the decision to close the camp was made. But students were offered alternative employment options, Grey said.

UCLA said that the venue itself was still open to alumni and their families, but that without student counselors, it would not offer the usual Bruin Woods programming.

Scott Carr, an attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Derrick and Dixon, said that he and his clients were glad to hear about the temporary closure and that “others this year aren’t going to be subjected to the same treatment that our clients were subjected to last year and others have been subject to in the past.”

UCLA is unveiling a new initiative to help students afford college without loans, seeded with a $15-million gift from Bruins alumnus and real estate investor Peter Merlone.

April 26, 2023

“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,” Carr said. He added that he hoped the suspension was “a catalyst for change in creating a safe and healthy environment for employees and attendees of the camp.”

Derrick and Dixon spoke with The Times shortly after the lawsuit was filed and recalled their experiences at camp, including a five-day period in June when the bulk of the abuse allegedly occurred. They eventually left camp early and said that, in the months after they returned to campus, their mental health had suffered.


Carr said that, aside from compensation for what they went through, a goal of his clients was to make sure no one else would experience similar abuse.

“This summer,” he said, “that goal seems to be accomplished.”