USC primed to develop its own identity

USC starts the year in a state of flux.

The university has changed its personality over the years. With each decade, and each new leader, USC’s image has changed. Ask three different people to tell you about USC, and they’ll describe three different schools.

Depending on who you ask, USC is a school under investigation for its response to allegations of sexual assault, a school that struggles in its relationship with the community, a school on the way to becoming the academic powerhouse of the West Coast.

Our school is changing, changing at a such a rapid pace that a graduate from 2013 might not recognize USC in a few years. In the last year alone, USC has seen some monumental changes.

The university introduced the creation of the multidisciplinary USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation in the spring. USC also debuted its Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy in the fall. And the addition of several new hires in the upper echelon of the university also brings the potential for the university to change how it engages with students and defines itself.

But not all of the changes USC has experienced in the past year have stemmed from the university — the administration has also had to craft its response to several hot-button issues.

When President C. L. Max Nikias announced USC’s closed-campus security policy last November, the culture of the university shifted. When more than 70 Los Angeles Police Department officers swarmed a student party last May, the university’s relationship with the community shifted. When the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in June launched an investigation into the alleged sexual assaults of three USC students, the perception of the university shifted yet again.

We’re at a crossroads; USC must seize this opportunity to select its own personality instead of being defined by controversy. This is a time of change, and amid this change, our school has some choices to make.

The way the university handles the big-picture issues now will determine others’ perception of USC for years to come.

We have an opportunity to determine USC’s future, but only by taking decisive action.

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