Art by Sacha Irick
Where is that again?”— a question commonly asked of us when we tell people we go to school at Pepperdine. “Ooooh Malibu, that’s nice.” People don’t automatically associate Pepperdine with Malibu, as opposed to schools like UCLA and Chapman University that are synonymous with Los Angeles and Orange County. Somehow, the introduction of our university, conspicuously settled on a hill overlooking PCH, has not changed the perception of Malibu into a college town.
Since 1971, Pepperdine’s presence has forever changed the landscape of the Santa Monica Mountains. While previous administrators considered other locations for the campus, they ultimately decided on this drop-dead gorgeous town. Since then, Malibu and Pepperdine have co-existed as separate entities without considerable integration.
The progressive nature of a university threatens the small-town feel that many Malibu locals hold dear. New additions to the Malibu Country Mart — such as Urban Outfitters and Chipotle — have caused tensions to rise. Malibu seems happy to maintain their Malibubble status, while students are desperately searching for anything reminiscent of their hometowns. However, as students, we need to realize that Malibu is now our hometown. It is the community in which we can either sink or swim. Through the Pepper-Bu initiative, students and Malibu locals can grow together to make Malibu the best it can be. We can use our skills of innovation at Pepperdine to further expand the traditional Malibu brand.
The struggle for a communal identity even starts with the namesake, Malibu. While Pepperdine remains a dry campus, the coastal city reminds foreigners of the Malibu Dark Rum Liquor. The Malibu name is also associated with millionaire beach bums and Iron Man’s estate. Public figures find their peace and privacy behind the tall hedges of the sleepy coastal town. On the other hand, the college environment is much livelier by nature, less dignified and noisier than the inhabitants of Malibu might like. As a school, Pepperdine has an image of prestige as private and conservatively Christian.
While our previous images may have clashed like zebra and polka dot, some Malibu businesses, such as Regal Malibu Twin and Marmalade Cafe, have begun reaching out to the student body by offering student discounts. Other Malibu businesses should follow in their footsteps. Ralph’s doesn’t even showcase Pepperdine pride, but instead promotes our southern neighbors, USC. The hours of operation seem to reflect those of a student-supported grocery store. How many Malibu residents go on grocery runs at midnight? As our main outside food source, we would love to see a bit more support from Ralph’s.
Why are all the sales in Santa Monica and not in our own backyard? Student discounts are an enticing way to bring together the student body and the citizens of our beloved beach town. Everyone expects prices to be higher than normal in Malibu, but the expensive shops and boutiques in Malibu force those on a college budget to go out of town to do our shopping. By limiting our ability to shop in town, Malibu creates an economic barrier that limits our ability to integrate with the locals. We want to shop till we drop.
Chain stores, we are talking to you. Why are most of your items more than $49.99, especially when in Santa Monica the lowest prices range from $9.99 to $24.99? We want to dress like the celebrities we tweet about every time we go to Starbucks. Let us brag about our new Malibu style when we return home in December.
We want to help. We don’t know what you need, Malibu. Since our motto is “freely ye receive, freely give,” we are ready and willing to be a positive force in our town we all know and love. We wait to be used, just sitting up here on our hillside. This university is home to thousands of students with hearts for service who can do great things in the community, if only we were asked. Pepperdine students have a strong desire to be one with the Malibu community. However, because not all students have cars, this can be a challenge.
So the simple solution is: come to us. We invite you, the Malibu community, to join us in the celebration of theater, lectures, convos, arts and athletics. You may not realize it, but we need your support. We have a beautiful theater and newly renovated facilities, which are an opportunity for the locals to become integrated with the Pepperdine community.
Each of our two distinct groups have one thing in common: We all love Malibu. The rocky beaches, seafood restaurants and breathtaking views will make it hard to leave after graduation. The Pepper-Bu Initiative is our way of reaching out to our neighbors and business owners. We want to restore and maintain Malibu’s beauty, while also preparing for her bright and beautiful future.
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As published in the Oct. 3, 2013 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.