Nearly 150 students, faculty and local community members gathered at Tommy Trojan for a “Solidarity Rally” Thursday evening to watch impassioned speeches regarding violence, assault and hate speech.
“The purpose of the rally is to provide a space in which … boundaries between students, faculty and the community — which can normally seem very rigid — can be broken and we can show we’re one united Trojan Family… and one united community of Los Angeles,” said Black Student Assembly Advocacy Chair Kameron Hurt. “We want to provide a space where unity prevails, where community members and students can air grievances that they feel.”
Along with the speeches, student organizations promoted their organizations and VoteSC registered students to vote.
To open the event, Mato Standing Soldier, a student leader from the Native American Student Union led the crowd in a prayer from the Lakota culture.
“Thank you, Creator, for the day you have given us … allow for us to have good progress and to have everyone’s questions be answered and everyone’s comments be attended to,” Standing Soldier said.
Professor Charles Davis III from the Rossier School of Education was the first speaker at the rally. He encouraged students to allow their voices to be heard, as they can create change.
“I want you to think about power, I want you to be thinking about transformation, I want you to be thinking about miracles.” Davis said. “Within each one of you and all of you together, you have the power to transform the society and the campus of [USC].”
Led by Davis, the crowd then proceeded to chant, “Power. Transformation. Miracles.”
Paul Lanctot, a caseworker from the L.A. Tenants Union, encouraged students to think about how the University affects the surrounding community.
“Gentrification is sweeping through communities,” said Lanctot, who introduced a former tenant of Exposition Boulevard who was recently evicted. “[He] is a tenant that lived down the street and his whole block was displaced for USC students.”
The Daily Trojan previously reported that developers are expanding housing for USC students, and has been working with property managers to evict local residents.
Mai Mizuno, a former USG official, spoke about what she called a culture of abuse at USC following her own assault from former Engemann Health Center gynecologist George Tyndall.
“This isn’t about politics, it’s about our well-being, our livelihood,” she said.
USG senator Meagan Lane encouraged students to attend Senate meetings to voice their grievances.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains,” she chanted. “You need to know how to mobilize your voice and you need to know who your allies are.”
During an open forum, rally attendees were given the opportunity to step up and speak. Members from the Students for Justice in Palestine and the Queer and Ally Student Assembly spoke about the Oct. 4 event at Bovard Auditorium featuring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
“It is one thing to mobilize and one thing to show up on the day of … but it’s another thing to … continue that drive,” Hurt said. “Demand that they start reacting to what we have to say instead of us reacting to what they have to say.”