USC Helenes begin new tradition for rivalry week

Three members of the USC Helenes watch over the Hecuba statue located in the USC Village. Photo by Will Alpert | Daily Trojan

USC Helenes, the University’s oldest female service organization, have been on a 24-hour watch to guard the Hecuba statue at USC Village in honor of Troy Week, the week of the USC-UCLA football game.

The Helenes have been gathered around the 12-foot statue since Saturday evening, and will continue to do so until the UCLA football game. Members are encouraged to eat, study and take turns sleeping next to Hecuba in order to guard against potential UCLA pranksters. There are always at least four members present during the day and two members alert and on guard at night, according to Helenes President Kylie Sedgwick.

“Watching over Hecuba has been really fun,” said Ellie Lo Re, a freshman Helenes member majoring in neuroscience. “All these restaurants in the Village have been donating food to us and it has given me a lot of time to hang out with the other Helenes in the organization, who I haven’t really met yet.”

Revealed in August at the USC Village’s opening, Hecuba, Queen of Troy, aims to symbolize the women of Troy and the diversity of the Trojan Family. The statue serves as a counterpart to Tommy Trojan located in Hahn Plaza, and its’ 8-foot base depicts six women of African, Asian, Caucasian, Latinx, Native American and Eastern Mediterranean descent.

“It’s an especially high honor for us because Hecuba is a symbol of strong, diverse women, and we just really identify with her and the values that she had,” Sedgwick said. “We really connect with the fact that she urges Trojans to fight on even when the odds seem against them.”

This is the first time the Helenes have participated in “Hecuba Watch.” However, the Helenes’ brother organization, the Trojan Knights, have been honoring a similar tradition by guarding Tommy Trojan during Troy Week since the early 1940s, according to Trojan Knights President David Monk.

“Various acts of vandalism went back and forth between the two campuses, and sometime around the early ‘80s, these acts escalated rapidly,” Monk said. “Now we stand guard to make sure that Tommy doesn’t fall victim to any attacks from the other school … [and] spending a week dedicated to protecting Tommy has also given us a week to dedicate sharing brotherhood.”

Sedgwick hopes Hecuba Watch will become a longstanding tradition during Troy Week.

“I think the rivalry is really … a unique thing about being at USC,” Sedgwick said. “[It’s] that you have another institution across town, but I think there’s a lot of community sort of around that. It’s something that brings people together.”

In addition to protecting Hecuba, the Helenes are also conducting a week-long hygiene donation drive at the statue. The USC community is encouraged to donate toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, clothing and blankets to be distributed to the local homeless population.

“We’re collecting different items,” Katie Bradley said, a senior Helenes member majoring in policy, planning and development. “They range from toothbrushes to female hygiene products, and we’re going to take all of those and take them to The Hippie Kitchen and USC Share a Meal so they can hand them out to homeless shelters around campus.”