Pepperdine students find it difficult to go to Los Angeles for the entertainment they love

Sophomore psychology major Avery Tanaka at a football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs at the SoFi Stadium (Photo by Avery Tanaka)

The day before going to a Whiskey Meyers concert at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles, junior advertising major Luke Pemberton checked his route to the concert. 

Apple Maps indicated the venue was 40 minutes away. But due to unexpected traffic, it took him two hours, and Pemberton was late for the concert.

“I thought I would go to Los Angeles more. I thought that it would be easy to go,” Pemberton said. “I definitely think it’s a total pain to go down there.”

A Pepp Post Poll of 51 students found that nearly 57% of students thought they would go to Los Angeles more during their time at Pepperdine.

Pepperdine is 29 miles from downtown Los Angeles, one of the biggest cities in America with many entertainment venues for college-aged students. The Pepperdine website describes LA as less than an hour away from the university.

“I do not agree with that statement,” said Jaclyn Wishard, senior political science major. “That may be true in distance for a bird to fly, but because of traffic you would never make it in that time. I have never gotten to Los Angeles in less than an hour.”

There are many opportunities for Pepperdine students to find entertainment in Los Angeles including concerts, sporting events, museums and restaurants. However there are many problems that make the trip to Los Angeles unappealing, which includes traffic, drive time, gas prices and lack of time.

Things for students to do in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a diverse selection of entertainment events. Music lovers might enjoy going to concerts or music festivals. There are also theaters for fans of the arts, flea markets or farmer’s markets, comedy venues and many shopping locations.

Students who are interested in art can find some beautiful galleries, including the iconic street lamp piece, Urban Light by Chris Burden, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Other museums in Los Angeles include the Getty Villa, The Getty, Natural History Museum, the Griffith Observatory, the California African American Museum and the California Science Center. For the sports fans at Pepperdine, there are arenas for multiple sports. This includes Dodger Stadium for baseball fans, Banc of Los Angeles Stadium for soccer fans,  SoFi Stadium for football fans and the Crypto Arena for basketball fans.

Factors that make it difficult for students to get to Los Angeles

Although Pepperdine is around 29 miles from downtown Los Angeles, students find that it seems much further. One large reason for this is the traffic. 

Of the 51 students surveyed, 45 said the Los Angeles traffic makes it difficult to go to Los Angeles events.

“Traffic is a big one,” sophomore psychology major Avery Tanaka said. “I don’t have time to fit it into my schedule while also accounting for the time that traffic would take.” 

First-year psychology major Cade Swearingen agreed with Tanaka in thinking traffic makes it difficult to go to Los Angeles. 

“I would say it takes an hour but if there is traffic it would take way longer,” Swearingen said.

Los Angeles traffic is also unpredictable, which leads students to worry about making their event on time or getting back to campus for specific needs. 

Another factor that makes it hard for students to go to Los Angeles is the total price of the events. This includes the cost of gas, parking and the cost of the event.

Tanaka said she enjoys going to Los Angeles for sports events and concerts, which usually cost a decent amount of money. 

“I believe the most I’ve spent was around $500 on tickets to a football game for me and my friends,” Tanaka said. “On average, I’d say I spend at least $100. I definitely believe it’s worth the hassle (and the price). Yeah, they’re expensive and yeah, it’s annoying to have to drive into LA and find/pay for parking and pay for the tickets, but it’s also an experience you’re never going to forget.”

Other students find cheaper entertainment opportunities and still believe that it is worth the hassle.

“The most amount of money I’ve ever spent was $50,” Swearingen said. “I think it’s worth the hassle but only with other people and it’s definitely helpful to have a car.”

Although students think that spending money is worth it for the experience, costs can add up.

In March 2023, Los Angeles gas prices averaged $4.69 per gallon according to the American Automobile Association. The average miles per gallon a car will get in 2020 is 24.2 miles, according to The U. S. Department of Energy. With downtown Los Angeles being 29 miles from Pepperdine, the total mileage of a trip there and back would be 58 miles. At these rates, the 58-mile trip from Pepperdine to downtown Los Angeles and back would cost $11.24.

Another expense to note is the cost of parking in the downtown area. For example it costs $20 to park at LACMA. At the Crypto Arena, parking can be anywhere from $10-$35 depending on the event.

“LA is so expensive and as a college student I don’t have the money to be spending on things in LA every weekend,” Tanaka said. 

Of the 51 students polled, 41 said gas prices make it difficult to get to Los Angeles, and 23 students said the price of events make it hard as well.

“Anything you are gonna do in LA is gonna cost more than you think,” Pemberton said.

How Pepperdine advertises its proximity to Los Angeles

Pepperdine uses the proximity as a selling point to prospective students. The Pepperdine Admissions Office declined an interview about the subject but shared an excerpt from their campus tour script which states, “One of Pepperdine’s greatest assets is that we have access to major metropolitan resources. Santa Monica is 20 minutes away, and LA is 45 minutes away.”

“Less than an hour from downtown Los Angeles, Malibu is a short drive from many of the area’s premier cultural and recreational centers, as well as world-famous venues,” according to the Pepperdine website.

Most students do not agree with this time estimate.

“It depends on the time, but two hours on average,” Wishard said. “I spent three hours the other night driving to a hockey game.”

Although students might think that this advertising is misleading, the university is not necessarily at fault from a public relations perspective, Public Relations Professor Klive Oh said.

“People might feel misled but it wouldn’t necessarily be a lie if they were talking about the best case scenario,” Oh said. 

How Pepperdine combats the problem of far-away entertainment

Pepperdine does try to make activities available to those who find it difficult to get off campus for entertainment reasons.

Specifically, The Board has an event that provides transportation for students to visit the Getty Villa. There is also an event for second-year students that provides transportation, lunch and a ticket to Six Flags for $30.

Additionally, there are a multitude of on campus activities for students. A few examples are Blue and Orange Madness, Reel Stories Film Festival and the Christmas Tree Lighting. 

Doug Hurley, associate dean of Student Affairs, said he is more interested in and proud of the more intimate events the Board hosts to help students find a connection with the university. For instance, before weather canceled the trip, the Board had planned to take 35 students to Mammoth over Spring Break.  

“It’s not a big crowd, but it’s successful in that students ski all day together and they come back to a place, cook, sit by the fire and build relationships,” Hurley said, speaking of prior versions of the trip. 

Although it is difficult to get to Los Angeles for entertaining events, there are still ways to find sufficient entertainment on campus, Hurley said.  

Caroline Griffith completed the reporting for this story under the supervision of Dr. Christina Littlefield and Dr. Theresa de los Santos in Jour 241 in Spring 2023. Dr. Littlefield supervised the web story.