Students more political through dialogue than protests

Occupy Wall Street, a protest that began in New York in September, has ignited protests across the United States. Students in cities like Boston, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles have joined the cause, yet the USC campus appears to be missing the excitement.

Two USC students, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests, staged a sleep-in in front of Tommy Trojan on Monday, but their fellow Trojans were nowhere in sight.

Speaking up · Last semester students on campus protested the content of a controversial email that had circulated within the Greek community. - Matthew Wunderlich | Daily Trojan

This trend is not unique to the USC community, according to Daniel Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute. Though young people are often the force behind political change abroad, as demonstrated by the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan revolutions, in the United States, older people have taken the reins.

“Unlike the anti-war protests about Vietnam, which elicited a broad base of college student support, today’s wave of protests are focused towards an older generation,” Schnur said.

Schnur suggested most protests seen in this country, such as the Tea Party demonstrations, pertain to an older demographic and therefore have little impact on the USC campus.

“This is not to say that USC students won’t be involved in the future, but right now the issues seem to be targeting other people” Schnur said.

Schnur suggested USC students find other ways to become involved in political and social movements.

“Since I’ve been at USC, I’ve seen students volunteer in community-based activity, which is just as accurate an indicator in political involvement as voter registration and protests,” Schnur said.

USC and its affiliated institutions administer 260 community service programs. These programs serve more than 600,000 people and provide volunteer opportunities for more than 22,000 USC students, faculty, staff and alumni each year. Volunteers contribute more than 900,000 community service hours annually, according to the USC Volunteer Center.

Bertrand Perdomo, a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning, has protested against issues such as the passage of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which requires immigrants residing in Arizona to carry proper documentation. Perdomo, however, does not consider himself to be politically active in a traditional sense.

“[Protesting] is not our style, as a school and sometimes it’s looked down upon,” Perdomo said. “USC has a great culture of having discussions and panels and I think their approach is discussion-based.”

Perdomo said there are ways to get USC students more involved through open dialogue.

“We need to encourage a dialogue,” Perdomo said. “People need to have an OK environment to say, ‘Hey, look, this is how I view the world.’ I know it’s not that popular among the people here, but this is how I view it and this is why.’”

Perdomo said being on campus can make it seem like national issues don’t affect students.

“USC can sometimes feel cut-off from the outside world,” said Tanja Venstad, a junior majoring in international relations and psychology. “The university is so invested in its own backyard that it is easy to get wrapped up in the USC community and forget about what happens beyond it .”

7 replies
  1. Quyennnl
    Quyennnl says:

    I didn’t read all the comments below, but I do agree with the general consensus that we’re in a bubble at USC. Although there are many students on campus who are not from wealth, the majority are. University-sponsored discussion panels have a place, but they can’t replace protests.

    Those two students who staged the sleep-in should have spread the word better. I would have joined if I knew it was happening. Justsayin’.

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Of course USC would be left out of the protest bubble. Most of the kids that go here have no idea what it means to be in financial woes. Most of the men and women who are being protested against are probably the parents of the students here.

  3. Zman
    Zman says:

    Day Dreamer..

    The reason the houses were so expensive is because goverment made the money available through guaranteed loans.. same as education and health care.. But that bubble burst as will the student loan eventually, the bond bubble and so on.. It’s the fault of the goverment and not capitalism or whatever ism you want to apply.

    USC student..

    There is some truth to that but it applies to maybe like 1% of the student body.. and yeah Fox News is garbage but is so CNN, MSNBC.. There is nothing different between them or the two major parties except for rheoteric..

  4. USC student
    USC student says:

    What this article doesn’t mention is that this school is filled with the same whiny, spoiled, over-priveliged brats whose parents are profiting from the very same corrupt, elitist financial system that keeps ghettos overflowing; the hungry, hungry; the poor, poor and the rich, rich. I go to school with these kids — most of them don’t watch news besides the back-patting, rah-rah-American, drill-baby-drill drivel that is served to them on Fox News and the Wash Post. They don’t care about enough beyond what frat house will be hosting next week’s kegger. Get over yourselves. If there’s any “dialogue” at USC it’s self-serving and in no way “open”.

  5. Day Dreamer
    Day Dreamer says:

    What’s interesting about these “Wall Street” protests is the fact that people from all walks of life are finally realizing that the traditional American dream of hard work, home ownership, and a comfortable living is slipping away from the vast majority of Americans.

    Thirty years ago, average Joe Plumber worked hard so that he could buy a home with one paycheck. Today, assuming he can even find work, it takes two paychecks to pay rent for an over-priced apartment. Joe Plumber of yesteryear saw his $30,000 home increase in value to $500,000+, cashed out the equity and consumed like there was no tomorrow. Today he finds himself struggling to avoid foreclosure.

    People fresh out of college can only hope to save enough for a 20% down payment to buy Joe’s $500,000 home. But first they have to pay back those pesky, enormous student loans which will cut into their ability to save for that elusive mortgage loan.

    The banks of “Wall Street” have more homes on their books than they know what to do with. Realizing their mistake of easy lending, they ratcheted up the requirements to qualify for loans. There are more sellers than buyers, and many buyers can’t afford, or qualify, for new loans. But is it their fault that home values increased over the past few decades? Is it their fault that they found a way to make money selling home equity loans? Is it their fault that they found other ways to make even more money by selling investments based on the loans? It’s called capitalism and it’s intrinsic to the American dream.

    Now we see Joe Plumber and college students walking hand-in-hand at these protests, disillusioned and angry that the American dream is just that, a dream.

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