This letter is in response to the Sept. 22 article entitled “WSA director speaks at USG senate meeting” that ran in the Daily Trojan.
As a senator representing the largest constituency in the student body, it is my duty to see that unelected bodies in Undergraduate Student Government, like the Women’s Student Assembly, remain mindful of the message they send to the public. Besides tuition, the student programming fee has also increased. Like tuition, students may not opt out. Issues arise when this mandatory fee is used to cover organizations that engage in outright partisan activity. The WSA stands among the top five Program Board assemblies that saw their funding increase the most from last year, receiving funding equivalent to one full year’s worth of USC tuition. Having the “privilege” of their resources to focus solely on the very pressing and crucial issues of sexual assault and domestic violence, the WSA has admitted on record to establishing relations with Service Employees International Union — a labor union known in California for going on the record and threatening our legislators into unconditional support of union policies, none of which bear direct relation to issues affecting our student body. Furthermore, while viewpoints throughout the spectrum are welcome, it is not constructive to unleash fighting words against an entire “oppressive patriarchal capitalistic structure of power,” which stands as a very vague and abstract concept at best. It is, however, clearly partisan, like SEIU. A senator is left wondering: Is the goal of this organization — with over $40,000 in funding — to take practicable, brainstormed measures against assault, or to engage in divisive politics?
The issue at stake here is one of radical political propaganda. It has become clear that there is a very partisan undertone underlying its goals. This political approach was even verified by the WSA’s director during the Sept. 22 senate meeting. This stands in stark contrast to what was said in an internal, USG-wide presentation the WSA made during the summer. In that presentation, the WSA claimed the actions it takes are not partisan. Ironically, this was a claim made after having presented its leadership’s antagonistic opinions on capitalism and economics as a professional field and academic discipline.
Furthermore, the WSA has student-funded resources that are, in one way or another, allowing the WSA to spend its valuable time correcting the spelling of words like “history” to “hxstory” and “women” to “womyn” and also to spread the libelous message that their dissenting peers form an “unholy alliance” that “exploit irrational fears about women’s sexuality” like it did in a 2012 newsletter. That newsletter directly targeted evangelical Christians and certain politicians for disagreeing with their views. Certainly, that is not conducive to the “safe spaces” it claims to support.
No one is taking a position against sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and awareness. The question here is if the WSA is wise in mixing partisan politics with what should be a nonpartisan goal, especially while claiming to represent all USC women in its very name. It is more a matter of philosophy than empirical fact when we generously choose to link a theory about “oppressive patriarchal capitalistic structures of power” to the real-life applications of helping and counseling victims and preventing future abuse. These conversations — which are indeed very engaging — can be explored by any independent student organization on campus, protected under free speech. But, when an official and unelected USG organization is entrusted with as much funding as USC charges in tuition, there is a degree to which it owes the diverse student body to remain reasonably above the partisan fray. Two organizations that live up to this standard are USG’s Wellness Affairs and USC’s Center for Women and Men, which are both aptly qualified to tackle the serious, nonpolitical health issues of assaults on campus and could make very good use of $43,000 in funding.
USG Residential Senator