Letter to the Editor: When handling Tyndall case, the University must give victims a seat at the table
In 1993, I was molested by Dr. George Tyndall when I sought medical care from the Engemann Student Health Center. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that a crime had been committed. Over the years, I have struggled to come to terms with what happened to me. It wasn’t until several months ago when I began seeing news reports about other victims that I realized a punishable crime had been committed against me 23 years earlier.
I love my alma mater. As a proud daughter of Troy, I am forever part of the Trojan Family. However, I also recognize that in its current form, USC is deeply flawed. The Trojan Family is dysfunctional.
What happened to me and hundreds of other women at USC under Dr. Tyndall’s “care” should have never happened, nor been allowed to continue for nearly 30 years.
The fall semester has begun, and parents of current students have sent their children off to school trusting that they will be safe and well cared for. To start this new academic year on the right foot, the Board of Trustees must advocate for an honest reckoning and a fresh beginning — for truth, reconciliation and accountability. Specifically, the Board must undertake the following:
Give us a seat at the table.
Every victim of Tyndall’s deserves to share her story in order to get to the bottom of the colossal missteps in this case. Don’t just leave the investigation to expensive law firms. Listen to us. Closely.
Revisit the action plan.
Hatched with breathtaking speed mere days after the revelations in the Tyndall case, the 20-page action plan is ambitious. How many of the intended changes outlined in the action plan have actually been implemented? Our mission must be to serve as a model of institutional reform at USC, to be replicated elsewhere.
Don’t shelve reports from internal investigations.
If USC truly wants a fresh start, make the findings of the internal investigation public. Transparency can be painful, but USC has a long way to go before it can shed its reputation for massive cover-ups that enabled egregious misconduct to fester for far too long, until it blew up into full-fledged crisis.
Convince us that the renewal at USC will be real.
Why was the Board so slow to comment and act on Tyndall and other current scandals? Why did it take so long to prompt President C. L. Max Nikias to leave? How is change possible when Nikias continues to serve as life trustee who will onboard interim president Wanda Austin? This is no more than a game of musical chairs. This half-hearted ousting is not enough. Shouldn’t more administrators be asked to leave? For example, Provost Michael Quick?
Self-examination is central to the understanding of our function and purpose. A board of 57 voting members is too big to function effectively and efficiently. The secrecy surrounding the membership of the executive committee should be lifted. The board has shown itself to be too cozy with the president and the administration. It is also time to include more women and minorities, and to elect faculty and student trustees to ensure greater transparency.
USC has produced some of the finest alumni in the country. But it’s time for the University to chart a new course. I am part of an accidental sisterhood of hundreds of women and we are not going away. To steer away from scandal in the future, the University must shed its culture of secrecy and silence and abandon business as usual. USC needs to reaffirm its commendable values — not just in word, but in action.
Dana Loewy, ‘95
Loewy is part of the largest group of women to sue the University and former health center gynecologist George Tyndall.