Fences remain, keeping community out


All are now well aware of the fact that, over winter break, the university implemented several new security measures. The most visible is the construction of multiple new fences on the north side of campus, as well as a barrier on the south side of campus, across Trousdale Parkway.

Nick Cimarusti | Daily Trojan

Nick Cimarusti | Daily Trojan

Nevertheless, during the three weeks in which school has been in session, many have grown  more and more worried over the effects this fence might have upon USC’s relationship with the surrounding community. Some students also worry that the fence serves as a symbol to those living around campus that the university believes them to be more foe than friend.

USC’s code of ethics explains how the university intends to “serve as a bright beacon for all peoples … by respecting the rights and dignity of others and by striving for fairness and honesty in our dealings with others.”

One can’t help to notice how, recently, that beacon burns less brightly.

On paper, these fences serve as a means to prevent agents not affiliated with the university from entering the campus and committing detrimental acts. The creation of these fences is an understandable move on the university’s part. In light of the Halloween shooting, many are pleased that the university has enacted more stringent security measures. The decisions to limit the entrances to campus and increase security presence after hours are both commendable on the university’s part.

But students and faculty alike question the construction of the fence across Trousdale and along the north side of campus. People understand that the fence is in place for campus security. But there is still a question of what the external cost of having such a visible barrier between USC and the surrounding community is. One must wonder what those in the surrounding community think and feel when they see the university intent upon keeping them out, especially considering that USC’s code of ethics also explains how “we nurture an environment of mutual respect and tolerance.”

The construction of the fence on the north side of campus — a side which, unlike the south, is directly connected with the surrounding residential areas — is an action which does not conform to the university’s policy of mutual respect and tolerance, in this case to our neighbors in the surrounding community.

Instead of showing that USC is a tolerant, accepting community, the fence shows just the opposite: that the university and its students are neither respectful nor tolerant of the surrounding neighborhood and view it as a threat that must be kept away.

The broad assumption that the surrounding neighborhood is filled with people who wish nothing but malice upon USC and its students could not be further from the truth.

Though it’s no secret that the communities surrounding the university are of a radically different socioeconomic makeup than the university itself, something many connected with the university fail to realize is that those who live in the surrounding neighborhood are people, like you and me, who are simply living their lives in peaceful coexistence with those affiliated for the university.

Crime certainly exists in the neighborhood, something those who live in it know too well. But crimes that occur on campus rarely come from sources completely independent of the university: Indeed, the most recent DPS incident resolution received on Jan. 27 regarding student property stolen from EVK and New North says “the suspect was not a USC student but was an invited guest of a USC student.”

The fence around campus represents a fundamental misgiving many have about people who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds than their own. Those who come from different (read: less affluent) backgrounds than our own are not to be viewed with the animosity that they so often receive. Difference, after all, does not equate to danger.

The effect of the new fence around campus, as well as other university developments into the near future, has on the university’s already tarnished reputation in the surrounding community needs to be recognized on a wider scale. Until it does, there will continue to be a certain irony in the university calling itself respectful and tolerant of difference — when clearly our neighbors are given neither.

 

Matthew Tinoco is a freshman majoring in international relations. His column “Mixing Colors” runs Mondays

 
  • Graham

    The Grad student shooting I was referring to happened last April/May where two students were sitting in their car late at night off campus and someone attempted to carjack them. I’m not sure if they resisted, but two students ended up dead. The carjacker also didn’t shoot and leave. He made sure they were dead. One student was crawling away from the seen and his bloody handprints were found on the doorknob of a nearby house as he tried to get help. As far as not pooping where you eat, this crime I just described was obviously not a planned event; It was a crime of opportunity. This lends support to the idea that the carjacker was a resident of the neighborhood. Yes this crime happened off of campus and the incident at Halloween waas *only* near fatal. So by your reasoning we should have to wait for a fatal incident to happen on campus before we tighten down security? My main argument is that considering the recent uptick in violent crime on and around the campus, there had to be some security measures taken and as a starting point, what we have done is good. There is a lot of room for improvement which I am sure the university knows and will change as needed. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the community members have no say because they don’t pay to go to USC. That kind of pretentious attitude towards the community is not productive to either party. We have a duty to engage the community and help the community, but the community also has a duty to engage us and their peers to help stem violence and create less of a divide between them and the students/faculty/staff. This is an incredibly complex issue and the solutions will be equally complex. There will never be a solution that is the end-all-be-all that solves every issue. The university reacted to a tragic situation with what they felt was best and I support them in that.

  • 1982 LAS Alumnus

    I agree completely the fence is a waste of resources and sends a hostile message to the surrounding community. It is a lame and all too transparent reaction to placate those like I who believe that Michael Jackson should be fired for inviting and/or allowing gangbangers onto our beloved campus. Jackson ultimately is responsible for the shootings that occurred. His lack of leadership should not be rewarded by constructing such an albatross around USC. USC has survived for well over 100 years without a fence, including the Rodney King riots of 1992, and there is no good reason to construct one today. I think all USC students should demand that the administration remove the fence, or band together and tear it down.

  • jOHN

    USC has “a Tarnished Reputation with the Communtiy”?

    Who are you speaking with? The thousands of area students that get free tutoring, mentoring, summer camps, arts, etc provided by USC? Or is it the community leaders who just commanded $20m as their price for allowing USC to better the community by providing services and jobs through the construction of the new Village? Maybe its all the workers who live in the community that are employed by USC? Is it the families that benefit from the increased sense of safety that comes with the huge amounts of resources USC puts into neighborhood security?

    Honestly, who are you speaking with that gives you this impression or is this you just making this up?

    Get with the program. USC is a huge part of the growing community that is south/central LA. We are respected and loved by the vast majority that live here. Most of the local kids would die to attend USC. Naturally differences occur, as they do with all neighbors.But, the fact that we have put locks on our doors, like everyone else in the community, does not change our relationshiop or commitment to those that surround us.

    I think you are way off base here, Mr. Tinoko.

  • Graham

    There has been a lot of points made about how the community members are not that different from ours. With regard to that, we are forgetting that the several instances of fatal and near fatal violence has been created by members of that community. Those few that are committing crimes ruin the reputation for the rest of the community. It is impossible to determine which community members are the ones who are going to commit crimes and the ones that have no intention of doing so. Therefore there is no way to selectively let certain non-USC students on campus late at night and prevent others from doing the same. There seems to so much pressure on USC to “fix” the neighborhood around it. I think USC has a certain amount of responsibility to do so, but I’ve never heard one person call on the non-violent community members to help fix their own community. They have a certain amount of responsibility to do so and I do no believe that they are. Ultimately there needs to be a balance between outreach to the community and isolation from the community. I would venture to guess that the community members who want to be on campus late at night when campus is closed are the ones that are up to know good. During the day when the rest of the community is doing business they are perfectly welcome. There is nothing stopping them from coming on to campus. If the community is really that upset about the new barriers, ask them to help weed out the people who make the barriers needed.

    • jon

      Two points.

      1. Only one fatal / near fatal event occurred on campus. Perp was on-campus because of reckless use of party promoter. Use of such promoters is now banned.

      2. Locals generally don’t commit the fatal / near fatal crimes. Only one I’m awaree of involved the fatal stabbing of a grad student stemming from a verbal altercation with a neighborhood resident.

      Criminals from outside the neighborhood come here to target students. Same thing happens at UCLA. The campus’s actual neighbors are smart enough to know that, as the saying goes, you shouldn’t poop where you eat.

      • Manny

        Where is the data to support your final claim? How do we know where these people are from? As far as I’m concerned, leave any measures in place until data says otherwise. Even then, the entitled attitude of the community of “we are as much a part of USC as anyone else is” is, frankly, irritating. Do they as a whole pay money to go here or get paid to work here? No. Students do. Therefore, they get little to no say.