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Students protest UCLA’s choice of commencement speaker -- again

May 21, 2010 |  4:15 pm

Man, UCLA sure is a tough gig.

LA Weekly reports that for the second year in a row, students are protesting the school's commencement speaker. Last year, they complained that actor James Franco had not accomplished enough to be a role model for students. Now, they've set up a Facebook page to protest the selection of writer and author Gustavo Arellano as the College of Letters and Science's commencement speaker next month.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/03/27/gustavo.jpgArellano, an OC Weekly columnist whose "¡Ask a Mexican!" column appears in 35 newspapers nationwide with a circulation of two million, has written two books. He holds a master's degree from UCLA and also contributes to the Los Angeles Times' Opinion pages.

Arellano told the student newspaper Daily Bruin that he's used to criticism.

"Criticism of me and my work is such old hat at this point, I get flattered when people waste so much energy getting upset at me," he said.

He even posted a video on YouTube, playing a voice mail message from one of his detractors. The caller, apparently the parent of a UCLA student, told him: "No one wants to listen to you. You have done nothing of significance. You are not a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. You have done nothing that these kids can look up to." Ouch.

Of course, the students may regret their protest. After their complaints about Franco, he pulled out 10 days before the speech, citing scheduling conflicts. UCLA replaced him with Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson.

Sold for more than a pretty penny: A Laguna Beach resident sold a 1794 silver dollar for $7.85 million – the most money ever paid for any rare coin, the Orange County Register reports.

Steven Contursi, 57, told the Register, "I consider this an emotional loss, but a financial gain."

Contursi has been collecting coins since he was a child. The 1794 silver dollar was part of a collection of 35 and 50 coins that he bought for about $10 million. He says when he saw the coin, with Lady Liberty's flowing hair, his eyes lit up.

--Kimi Yoshino

Kimi Yoshino is an assistant city editor at the Times. Have news for Linking L.A.? Send it to newstips@latimes.com.

Photo: Writer and author Gustavo Arellano.

Credit: Los Angeles Times