Several organizations staged a protest Thursday to affirm their right to peacefully protest on campus.
The “Day of Peace and Action” was primarily organized by the Social Justice League, a group of students who want to express their right to free speech on campus, but involved representatives from the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the Coalition for a Safer Campus and Community, Call for Justice, Students for Asian Women Empowerment, the “Local 4” chapter of the Brickbuilder’s Union, Take Back the Night, the Nisei Project, the International Socialists Organization and She Shall Go Free.
Approximately 40 people marched around campus holding signs with messages like “I didn’t come to USC to learn to shut my mouth” and “I’m hungry, feed me justice,” while reciting chants such as “we want action, Dr. Jackson” and “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
“We want to create an atmosphere that will hold USC accountable to be a socially just and ethical school,” said Alicia Lu, the event organizer from SJL and a senior majoring in sociology and neuroscience. “Sometimes USC just shoots us down, and they can do that when we are few in number. We want to show our solidarity.”
Onlookers were not clear what the protesters’ intended message was.
Katie Morris, a sophomore majoring cinematic arts – critical studies, said she didn’t understand what the group was marching for.
“I didn’t understand what all their signs were trying to say,” Morris said. “It was interesting that there weren’t just students, but you just saw the protest for a minute and they passed by.”
After marching, the protesters gathered in front of Tommy Trojan.
“We all have our beef at USC and we’re going to make it known,” said Max Hoiland, one of the main event organizers, in front of Tommy. “We have a lot more in common than we have difference, and we want to create a community of support.”
Ashley Wabara, an undeclared freshman, said she came to the rally as a representative for Campus and Community United, which works to ensure the interests of the surrounding community are considered during relevant administrative decisions.
“We’re allies with SJL and wanted to show our support,” Wabara said. “There’s a misconception that students don’t care about these issues or the surrounding area and we have to show that people are actually deeply passionate about them.”
Michael Torres, a respiratory therapist at the USC University Hospital, said he marched to support several university-related unions.
“This is about solidarity,” Torres said. “Unions have to maintain a certain standard of commitment with our brothers and sisters, whether they work as builders, healthcare workers, hospitality or bricklayers. We’re all in negotiations with the university.”
Some students who observed the protest came closer to listen to the speakers, although most people walking along Trousdale did not stop.
Tim McGuingan, a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning, said he was glad to see students exercising their free speech, even though their message was not completely clear.
“At our age, people find causes where they feel like they can make a change,” McGuingan said. “They could have made this protest more cohesive.”