Hundreds of students plan to walk out of their classes Monday to call attention to the issues raised by the obscene viral email that has been linked to the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
Students from the USC Coalition for a Safer Campus and Community, Women’s Student Assembly and numerous other campus organizations organized the “USC Walkout for a Safer Campus,” which will feature a demonstration and a moderated open mic session at 11 a.m. in front of Tommy Trojan.
“We just want the administration to see that the dissemination of the email and what the email said represents a larger problem that the USC community refuses to ignore,” said Corey Arterian, a senior majoring in English and a member of the Coalition for a Safer Campus and Community. “Furthermore, we want the administration to give it the attention it deserves. We also felt like this would be a great way to spark a public dialogue.”
Arterian emphasized the purpose of the walkout is not to blame others for the recent scandal, but to engage positive conversation and promote awareness of misogyny and racism around campus.
“This is not an attack, but rather an encouragement to reflect on our cultural perceptions of women and men,” Arterian said.
Joann Park, a freshman majoring in communication, said she plans to attend the walkout because she is upset the issues raised by the content of the email are a joke to some students.
“This email and these photos are associated with our school,” Park said. “I do not want misogyny and these things to be attached to myself at job interviews. You are a Trojan, a student and we have a reputation to uphold.”
Alicia Lu, a senior majoring in neuroscience and sociology and a member of the Coalition for a Safer Campus and Community, said the event’s organizers hope to raise awareness not only of misogyny, but of racism as well.
“A lot of people have been talking about it as if it just affects women,” Lu said. “I really want to bring the conversation in that racism is not acceptable just like it is unacceptable to call women targets or to say that nonconsent is different from rape.”
Several members of the administration have also been invited to attend the walkout.
“It is important that the USC administration and Office of the Provost realize that students demand a more thorough and serious response from the university regarding these issues,” said Emilia Ana Cosma, a junior majoring in public relations and international relations and executive director of the Women’s Student Assembly. “We are hoping that the event will urge USC administration and students to more seriously consider the issues of rampant misogyny and sexual violence on campus, rather than just brushing these issues to the side.”
Lu said she hopes the event will also decrease the stigma surrounding the act of rallying.
“Gathering together and rallying is not crazy,” Lu said. “It’s normal and it’s a strong way to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and to connect people of different communities who share common values and say, ‘Hey, we care about the same issues.’”
Some students, however, feel the walkout doesn’t serve a purpose.
“I don’t think [the walkout is] necessary,” said Meagan Mason, a Ph.D. student studying musicology. “People have already spoken up about it and I think that’s enough.”
Organizers are encouraging men to attend to participate in the discussion and disprove any negative stereotypes.
“Men are a part of this campus and are also negatively influenced by certain gender perceptions that run rampant in mainstream society,” Arterian said. “[They] are as much as part of this fight as women. Men showing up to this event effectively dismantles this dangerous perception that some women have bought into in the wake of this email and its wide dissemination.”
Tal Peretz, a graduate student studying sociology and a member of USC’s MenCare, will attend the walkout Monday and said he hopes other men will come to the event as well.
“The fact is that emails like that give all men a bad name, and it makes it completely justifiable for women to fear men or have a distaste for men,” Peretz said. “So I think men need to be out there and working to change that.”
Abby Fass, a junior majoring in psychology and communication, said she agrees this is an important issue that affects both men and women.
“This is a slippery slope problem,” she said. “The jokes get worse and worse, and suddenly they are extremely hurtful. This is why it is important to call upon the university to help even out the playing field again.”
Organizers of the event expect about 200 people will attend the demonstration. More than 250 people indicated they are attending on a Facebook event as of press time.
“If 250 [people] show up, that will be amazing,” Arterian said. “The more, the better.”