Letter to the editor

University response to APASS incident lacking 

On Feb. 18, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Dr. Ainsley Carry, released an official statement regarding the racist and misogynistic letter sent on Feb. 1 to USC Asian Pacific American Student Services, a cultural resource center within the Division of Student Affairs. His lackluster and generic statement completely fails to reflect what Asian Pacific American students were demanding prior to the release, as it only boasts USC’s international student enrollment number rather than paying appropriate attention to the imminent issues affecting the APA students. Dr. Carry’s failure to distinguish between APASS and APASA, a student assembly within the Undergraduate Student Government’s Program Board, and his baffling and unnecessary inclusion of statistics on first generation and “students of Asian origin,” further confirm his lack of knowledge as the vice provost to tackle issues that have negatively impacted APA students.

Though we did not expect a detailed action plan, we had hoped to see a stronger commitment from Dr. Carry to utilize this incident as an educational tool for the entire campus, so that this type of incident does not occur again. Instead, students were presented with a shameless promotion of the school’s so–called diverse student body composition, coupled with a perplexing and frustrating display of misguided intents. We doubt any APA students’ opinions are included in the statement, and perhaps he and many others did not feel the need to take students’ ideas into account. Maybe he is right. Maybe students should not expect to check on a vice provost’s work before he releases it to the public. Or maybe we, as students, who USC exists to serve and protect, should and must demand more accountability from our school officials, regardless of their position. We are not sure whose interest the statement ultimately served, because it seems only concerned with promoting the school and the vice provost’s office for their “support” of APA students.

A majority of the readers will still fail to understand our frustration towards Dr. Carry and his statement, and such attitude is perhaps the best testament to the kind of environment USC has been fostering on minority student rights. We only need to look to last year for another example of a disappointing response from the administration to an issue that galvanized the school: the president’s brief statement regarding the Los Angeles Police Department’s abusive handling of the graduation party last May. Both the Vice Provost’s and the President’s statements are closer to temporarily pacifying Band-Aids than effective, long-term solutions (or at least firm commitments to be such). This trend is especially troublesome considering the gravity of both events and how much they affected so many students.

Most likely, this opinion piece will fail to find its way to the top school officials. But silence is worse than failed attempts, for it comforts those who attack us and breeds complacency amongst us. By remaining silent, we fail our future Trojans who rely on us to provide them with a safer and more accepting environment that they need. We can no longer afford to remain passive and indifferent to APA issues with visible consequences, and Dr. Carry must lead the effort as the vice provost for Student Affairs to propose and implement tangible changes that APA students have been demanding for so long.


Angie Kim

Senior, cognitive science

Theodore Lee

Senior, policy, planning and development and political science


8 replies
  1. Second Offer Dr. Carey = 2nd Tier Leadership
    Second Offer Dr. Carey = 2nd Tier Leadership says:

    I know Provost Garett had higher goals than Dr.Carey. Unfortunately our first offer said no… So we brought in a man who has no experience at this level. His time at Auburn is hardly comparable.

    For all the promise and hope he brought in his first weeks, he has proven to be a shadow of the leader we need.
    Thus far he refuses to meet with his own staff. He walks as a stranger in his own office suite. Student Affairs staff are jumping ship as fast as possible. USC should be concerned that he has created an environment in which people say ” Don’t work there”

    Keep being the hatchet man Dr.Carey. Keep tearing apart Student Affairs from within. Your closed door attitude is very clear to the USC community.

    Provost Garett.. Time to spin the wheel again. Maybe we can come up with an candidate that is worthy of our scale and scope.

  2. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    All the good ones have already left…Student Affairs was decimated by the Provost and everyone decided to jump ship before it sank. Sad.

  3. Incorrect focus
    Incorrect focus says:

    If you read the letter you can clearly see two things:
    1) The sheer ridiculousness and language of the flier obviously does not reflect any part of the student body at USC.
    2) It’s clearly directed at White Males and Asian Females, most likely someone who was bothered by the idea of people from these two groups dating.

    Though their are concerns about USC handling racial issues, using this letter as a platform to jump off is a bad idea.

    • Not a Fan
      Not a Fan says:

      I am a woman of Chinese descent at USC. Today while I was walking on campus, a non-Asian guy on his bike shouted “ni hao!” at me. At first I ignore him. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure that I heard him right…I just could not believe that someone at USC would be shouting ‘ni hao’ to me in that context. But when I glance at him quizzically without offering a verbal response he proceeds to shout “konichiwa!” then “ahn nyeong ha se yo!” while riding away.

      Clearly, racism and ignorance are still prevalent in our “19 percent under-represented minority” student body. If you read the flier, it is very clear that it is verbally abusive towards women and the APA community and additionally, tries to pit multiple communities against each other. It’s not just written by “someone who was bothered by the idea of … these two groups dating.”

      But, EVEN IF the flier only had to do with people from 2 groups dating (which it doesn’t), it is STILL appropriate to use it as a jumping point for talking about the way USC handles racism. As Angie and Theodore so eloquently said, “But silence is worse than failed attempts, for it comforts those who attack us and breeds complacency amongst us. By remaining silent, we fail our future Trojans who rely on us to provide them with a safer and more accepting environment that they need.”

      We need to use this opportunity to stand together and show the administration that, despite the VKC flags they boast about on every campus tour, racism and ignorance are heavily present at our university.

      Today after the guy rode away, I thought for a long time about why his comments, perhaps just passing ones to him, made me feel so bad. It’s still not something I can fully articulate just yet, but I did come to this realization: I don’t want people to *not* approach me about Chinese or Chinese American culture. I love teaching Chinese! I love sharing about my heritage and what it means to me! That’s not the problem. The problem is the context in which someone approaches cultural difference–instead of sincerely challenging to me a dialogue, he threw mis-appropriated words at me in a mocking, abusive way.

      Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he wasn’t racist, he was just ignorant. Perhaps he doesn’t know the difference between appreciating cultural difference and using cultural difference as a weapon. How can Dr. Carrie’s words that “our diversity is a point of pride and strength for us, and an asset to our community” hold any meaning at all when this diversity is being utterly mistreated and approached the wrong way? Are we simply curios in a museum?

      Instead of evasive language that tries to placate, we need an administration that supports students in taking specific steps to educate the public about these issues.

  4. USC Has Changed
    USC Has Changed says:

    Good luck getting a better response from this new USC. We have a President and Provost (mostly a Provost) and a Vice Provost who care more about image than students, who care more about the bottom line than campus culture, and who are ruining everything that USC used to be..
    By the time the Trustees wake up and see what’s happening, it will be too late to salvage this great campus.

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