Letter to the editor


In response to security measures

Dear USC community,

The purpose of this letter is to oppose recent actions taken by the Office of the President:

1. Installation of fencing on north perimeter of University Park Campus

2. Failure to promptly notify the USC community of temporary fencing

3. Creation of after-hours access periods from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. restricting campus to

students, faculty and staff

4. Increases in the number of Department of Public Safety officers and yellow jacket ambassadors

5. Ban on pre-rush social events on Fraternity and Sorority Row

First, newly erected chain-link fences negatively impact the university. The temporary fencing is ugly. Permanent fencing would be even uglier. Fellow students use the term “prison” to describe the barriers along Jefferson Boulevard and Trousdale Parkway. Prospective students and parents touring campus will be distressed by the six-foot-tall metal gating and conclude USC is unsafe — a false notion we have fought hard to combat. Spiked posts and brick pillars already border the west, south and east sides of UPC. Now, the Nikias administration has constructed, both physically and symbolically, another wall between campus and community.

Second, the construction of fencing was carried out without timely notice. Following the Halloween shooting on campus, President C. L. Max Nikias announced measures on Nov. 6, 2012 to promote campus safety. However, installation of “temporary fencing” wasn’t declared until Dec. 21, when students were on winter recess and buildings were closed. Within a week, the fence was up and returning students were shocked to find campus enclosed in a gate. There was no opportunity for the USC community to veto or even comment on the installation of fencing.

Third, restriction of campus access from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to students, faculty and staff is concerning. For starters, alumni must be allowed after-hours access. Additionally, if the university wants “a campus that welcomes all our neighbors for recreation, entertainment, education, and the community programs,” it will re-open campus to all seeking to use USC facilities for the betterment of society.

Fourth, I would like to formally oppose the addition of DPS officers and yellow jacket guards to the already bloated security system. DPS response time is impressive; increasing the number of officers is excessive. Furthermore, the multiplication of safety personnel creates a constant stifling state of observance in and around UPC. As a university we should not sacrifice freedom of movement for relatively little or no added security.

Fifth, the university’s ban on pre-rush Greek social events is troubling. Social outlets are important to a holistic college experience and the cancellation of these events in the guise of safety and finance is hollow. The construction of the north perimeter fencing undoubtedly cost much more than added security during the Wednesday and Thursday during which pre-rush has historically taken place.

As a student I am a primary stakeholder in the university. It is disturbing to watch important decisions in our university made by the Office of the President without timely notification or student input. I encourage the university to reopen campus to all people 24 hours a day, decrease its police state atmosphere and restore a social environment that promotes safety. President Nikias, tear down this wall!

Nick Brown

Senior, political science

 
  • North University Park

    You know it is obviously only a matter of time before check-point Charlie moves north of Jefferson into the demilitarized zone that is the UV. SC’s billion dollar project can’t be left out of our fearless leader master plan.

    • Wes

      Give it a rest. No one cares. If you’re so jaded, then move elsewhere.

      • Anonymous

        She is right! I have seen with my own eyes Dr. Speer’s new model of the glorious new capitol of USC! The campus crosses over Jefferson at Hoover to McClintock connecting the UV property (renamed “North Conquest”) creating a new wide open venue for marching and rallies in honor of our glorious leader and his many accomplishments. Through traffic on Jefferson will be diverted into subterranean tunnels where the salt mines once flourished under previous less glorious leaders as our current.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Well this conversation has certainly gotten unnecessarily out of hand, and certainly not befitting of members of the Trojan family who, in theory, all love this University and want it to shine for years to come.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to question the motives of President Nikias or the administration, in order to disagree with recent decisions. Nikias, a protoge of Sample, clearly loves all that USC stands for, including the decades-long effort to overcome the negative impact that (rightly or wrongly) is brought upon the University because of its location. I truly believe that the fencing, check-points and increased security presence are well-intentioned… but I also question the unintended consequence and negative impact that they pose.

    Undeniably, the worst on the list is the fencing. It must go. It’s a terrible idea, and a total knee-jerk reaction to the unfortuante events last Halloween. I agree with the reader who suggests that if fencing must be added… it must be constructed with some sense of design (perhaps a mid-height brick wall, with ivy growth, etc). The temporary fencing is hideous, and reinforces the notion that USC is in an unsafe and undesirable neighborhood. This point can not be overstated. There’s no denying it, and saying so is not an unreasoned insult to the people who live in the area. Lest anyone forget, USC was founded there in the late 1800’s, when little else was around. Soon, the area was filled with large homes and affluent residents. As the years went by and the money moved west, the neighborhoods around USC became home to large numbers of poor immigrants, and crime. It is very fair to say that the neighborhood has let USC down… Not the reverse! Nevertheless, USC remains statistically a very safe university, largely because of its well-recognized community outreach programs. USC must continue this relationship with the community.

    People must also be aware that USC is indeed private property. This point is often forgotten because it functions much as a suburban shopping mall, with the public wandering freely about. This is called an “easement”, and owners of private property have the right to revoke an easement at any time. The same is true of a shopping mall which, by day, allows the public free and unobstructed access… but, shuts down at night. Though USC has the right to shut its campus down at any time, I truly hope the administration can find a compromise that does not reinforce the belief that it is an unsafe university.

    I find it funny that, lost in this entire discussion, is any attempt to take an obvious stab at UCLA which was recently listed by one publication as the most unsafe university campus in the country. (That publication later revised its findings after the Bruins and others cried foul.) I like to joke that UCLA is a great university BECAUSE of its neighborhood, and USC is a great university DESPITE its neighborhood. Westwood makes them proud, and Expo Park keeps us humble.

    Joking aside, USC has an obligation to protect its students, staff and guests, but I am very disappointed in recent decisions made toward that effort. I hope and trust that the administration, on advice and counsel from the entire Trojan community, can revise its current efforts, and find effective but appropriate solutions.

  • Pat

    To “Another USC parent”

    Your inability to comprehend simple arguments leads me to believe you are an idiot that got lucky with a smart kid who got in to USC, whom you are now trying to protect because your only impression of college is of the state school you went to.

    If you’d like to learn how to have an intelligent conversation I’d be glad to give you some pointers, although it may be too late for you to learn logic.

    You’re attitude is destroying this country,
    Pat

    • another USC parent

      Thanks Pat,

      Your comment speaks for itself and does surprise me if you are indeed a student of this fine university.

      It does seem there are some vestiges of the USC glory days as a “party school”, but the pendulum has more than shifted to a university which attracts and serves high performing socially sophisticated students.

      I do see how this metamorphosis can produce anxiety and unease for some, but well meets the needs of the “new majority” and goals of USC’s administration which I heartily endorse.

      • Manny

        You’ve never actually attended this school or visited in the proper circles, have you?

        • another USC parent

          Manny,

          I have not attended USC as a student. I hold a doctorate from another university. I have visited USC many times. I have no idea what you are referring to as the “proper circles”.

  • John Timms

    I think it is a straw argument to say that the heightened security somehow affects USC’s relationship with “the community” as we’ve chosen to call them, whoever “they” are. The good people living in the neighborhoods around USC do not pose a threat to students or to the campus. The threat of crime comes from thieves in other parts of LA. USC is in a very high traffic area, and crime comes to us.

    Having fences won’t change our relationship with the community. Having fences will protect our students and our private property. There is no legitimate reason for any person not affiliated with USC to enter campus between 9pm and 6am on a whim with no invitation.

    The one thing this debate has taught us is that it is much easier to complain and disparage university decisions than to offer positive suggestions. You know what WOULD improve our relationship with the community? I’ll give you a hint- it has nothing to do with fences. If all of the people ranting against fences went and joined JEP, or Readers Plus, or a service fraternity or organization, then USC students could actually have a positive difference for the people living in this area.

    • John Timms

      Briefly, to follow up on Mr. Brown’s other points, I do agree that the temporary fencing is ugly. Efforts should be made as speedily as possible to replace it with tasteful permanent fencing such as can be seen along Exposition Blvd. Right now it looks like we’ve become a used car lot!

      I also think the ID checking at the gates could be made easier for students, and the large number of CSC personal hired along the perimeter of campus is somewhat excessive, especially since they do little other than act as some small deterrent. And pre-rush should not have been banned, it is a USC tradition and should be allowed to continue.

  • Alumna

    For the record, campus is still accessible 24 hours a day – you just have to have a reason to be here. Any student or employee can arrange for any guests to come at any time of the day or night. I don’t think any alumni who want to visit campus after 9pm will have much trouble getting in. As for the “community” – well, they can come back in the morning. It is, after all, private property, and like any private property owners, we have the right to shut down for the night for safety and security.

    • Manny

      Thank you!

  • Pat

    Agreed, especially in regards to the pre rush ban an general crackdown on social events. USC has long been a work hard, play hard environment and Nikias is obliterating the culture that made USC great.

    The administration dismissively and half-heartrdly explains that these measures are in the name of safety. Yet if they were truly concerned about students safety they would actually educate them about partying responsibly, in a manner that the students would take seriously (lol @ alcohol edu). The university is treating undergrads like a high school would, and as such is crippling their ability to mature. If things dint change, Nikias is going to graduate a generation of students who have been part of protectionist instututioms they’re whole life.

    perhaps the most concerning part is that the administration pays ZERO attention to one of the primary stake holders in any university: the undergrads paying $60,000/year to study there. They simply make decisions to please trustees, and to gain national attention e.g. Hiring professors that can’t teach worth a damn but have published research that Nikias can brag about.

    Bottom line: everything being done in USC’s executive offices right now is aimed at lining the university’s pockets, and recruiting top classes over the next 15 years, so in 20 years USC wil be a “top school.” Thing is, top schools didn’t get they’re by copying other institutions and ignoring their undergrads, they fostered growth, took risks on them, and allowed them to, god f***ing forbid, make mistakes and learn from them.

    • Pat

      In other words, in the eyes of the Nikias administration we’re just a transition class from party school to elite university, and he is doing everything in his power to eliminate any aspect of what he sees as “old SC,” the social, outgoing part.

      • another USC parent

        Pat,

        Goodbye and good riddance to the University of Spoiled Children and its Animal House vestiges. Welcome bright, sophisticated, high-performing undergrads who can appreciate the excellent university USC has become.

        Nikias is to be applauded for working to offer a social environment befitting the majority of its very capable current students and a world class university.

        • Manny

          Yet another clueless parent…

          • another USC parent

            Times are a changin Manny. As Pat recognized above, USC is completing “a transition from a party school to elite university”.

          • Manny

            Yes, because everything about USC screams party school. And no one around here takes education seriously. What hole did you crawl out of? UCLA?

          • Manny

            Someone watches a few too many movies. Either that, or your child is a shut-in.

          • Jeff

            Manny, don’t bother dignifying this individual’s words with a response. He/she hasn’t a clue about what goes on here. Just because he/she might be an adult doesn’t make him/her mature. Especially if it’s a parent trashing a university/students in a student-run newspaper. Just plain sad.

          • USC Mom w/ Greek Son

            @ SCmom2013,
            I am now quite sure your son is not in top house and definitely not a fraternity brother of my son or you would be better informed. Ms. Saul and Mr. Carlos are sweet people but truly out of touch as to what goes on the row. So if you are getting your information from them, you need a better source.

            My son and I will pray for you and your son.

            Judy

        • USC Mom w/ Greek Son

          @ Other Parent,

          Not all young men on the Row are alcohol crazed ruffians who need to be controlled. My son who is a member of the top fraternity on campus does not drink or use any drugs. He is a devoted Christian who holds weekly bible meetings in his fraternity for the benefit of other members. So before you make broad generalizations about young men in the Greek system, you should really bother to educate yourself about what really goes on!

          • SCMom2013

            I doubt your son is in a top fraternity, considering my son is and has no recollection of your bible meetings. In fact I have not heard of any bible meetings at any top houses. I speak to Greek Life almost once a week. Ask Beth or Ray if you need more info. And we have no record of one of our top fraternities having a bible meeting group. Believe me I would know. More likely, your son is in a middle tier fraternity. Nothing wrong with middle tier — its just not top.

          • Wes

            Clearly someone (SCMom2013) hasn’t left college yet. Debating “top” fraternities is like arguing “my dad can beat up your dad.” Pathetic.

          • SCMom2013

            To Wes – Im not debating. My son is in The Top Fraternity at USC. It’s not debate when its the truth.

          • Wes

            If only you had something more important and less superficial in your life, SCMom2013. This is a sad sight to see. Enjoy your opinions, I guess.

          • USC Mom w/ Greek Son

            Wes is clearly a GDI. I’m sorry rush didn’t work out for you. Not everyone is Greek material.

            God Bless!

          • Wes

            And I’m sorry your son has to pay for friends and wastes time doing inconsequential things. I did rush. I did get a bid. I realized that a) my time was better spent elsewhere, b) I’m far too talented to hang out with people who will just drag me down with their stupidity, and c) I don’t need to pay (or like most there, have their parents pay – I’m sure you can relate) for great friends. I’ve already sold my own startup in college and have received 17 job offers coming out of college. “Greek material” is just inferior. So enjoy your delusions of your son somehow being of consequence in or out of college. ;-)

          • Jeff

            I don’t know either of you, but who cares one way or the other? Good for both of you. I didn’t do the Greek stuff, since I knew I didn’t want to. Some of my friends did, some didn’t. For me, the Greek system wasn’t “Jeff material”. The smugness here is disgusting and pathetic.

            Swap emails/Facebooks and take it elsewhere, where it isn’t anonymous. Right now, this is pure cowardice. It’s even sadder that it’s an adult mother and a current student on a college newspaper site. Both of you should know better. Keep the conversation on track.

          • USC Mom w/ Greek Son

            17 job offers, impressive! It must be difficult to choose with so many Starbucks locations on the Westside. I’ll be sure drop a little extra tip in the cup when you make my latte someday…

          • Wes

            I’m actually starting as an assistant manager. I will be getting stock options so I don’t need your spare change.

          • Wes

            It’s funny you’re so arrogant when I’m already in the 1% due to a single sale of my startup, and I’m only 21! Enjoy your vicarious reliving of college through your son, who likely will never reach my current level. While you dabble in what you think is elite, I’ll be doing far more important things.

          • Pike #1

            Christian fraternities are NOT top fraternities. Sorry I’m not sorry.

          • USC Mom w/ Greek Son

            @ Pike #?

            Last time I looked, there is no Pike House at USC. I have been up and down the row including Portland and University streets. Pike is no where to be found. Are you a recongized USC fraternity? If so, how come you don’t have a house? I can’t imagine anyone ranks Pike #1 when they don’t even have a house.

            My son is not in a Christian fraternity. He is a member of the top social fratenity and maintains his Christian morals.

            Regardless, we will pray that Pike finds a home someday!

          • USC Mom w/ Greek Son

            @ Wes,

            All the money and success mean nothing in the eyes of the Lord. Your fallacious boasts are likley as hollow as your soul. We will pray that you find true meaninig in your apparent rudderless vacuous life.

            God Bless you Wes and we wish you the best!

            And yes, we forgive you…

  • John

    1. Install permanent metal fencing. The temporary chain link fencing looks trashy.
    2. Excellent. Keep out the hood.
    3. How difficult is it to differentiate South Central locals from students and USC faculty and staff? If they look like they might rob a convenience store, chances are they do not attend USC.
    4. The more hired guns, the better. That being said, one/two guards at each entrance would probably suffice.
    5. The university’s argument that pre-rush security is too expensive is just another thinly veiled attack on Greek life.

    Bottom line, South Central is a jungle and USC is private property. Let’s see how many people champion diversity when they have a pistol shoved in their face.