The Helenes began a 24-hour watch Sunday to guard the Tommy Trojan and Hecuba statues in the week leading up to the USC vs. UCLA football game. The female service organization has taken on the duties of its brother organization Trojan Knights, which has been inactive this semester due to alleged reports of hazing and misconduct.
The Helenes declined to speak about the nature of the Knights’ inactivity, but Helenes President Alexa Huerta said that her organization was excited to have been given this opportunity.
“It’s so exciting,” Huerta said. “It’s a fun opportunity to camp out for a week. It’s like one giant sleepover with some good friends.”
Trojan Knights President Dillon McKinley said he was unable to comment on the group’s inactivity, but in a statement to the Daily Trojan, McKinley wrote that the organization had strayed from its values.
“We, as an organization, see a need to restructure and reorganize so that we can once again lift those values up properly,” the statement read. “We will be taking the next year to accomplish these goals and implement the necessary changes … With the current plan, we intend to continue into our centennial anniversary and beyond to show that we are dedicated to the future of this great University.”
During rivalry week, the all-male Trojan Knights have traditionally guarded the Tommy Trojan statue in Hahn Plaza from pranks and mischief from the University’s cross-town rivals.
Since the Hecuba statue was erected in the USC Village in 2017, the Helenes have also taken part in the tradition.
Helenes Hecuba watch chair Saman Hemani said that other organizations such as the Undergraduate Student Government, Troy Camp and the Admissions Center will be aiding the Helenes as they watch over Tommy Trojan.
“We’ve let all the Helenes know that we have twice as much responsibility,” Hemani said. “But we are also collaborating with a couple of other [organizations] … Hecuba will be Helenes only and Tommy will be ‘Helenes plus.’”
Erica McCann, the Helenes advisor, wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan that the organization has partnered closely with Campus Activities, DPS and other campus offices for Hecuba Watch.
“This will be the first year the Helenes take lead on Tommy Watch, though they have always been actively involved in supporting the Knights’ efforts in years past,” McCann wrote. “They are well-prepared to take a leadership role over both watches this year, though it has been a lot to coordinate. I am very proud of how the Helenes executive board has stepped up to ensure these traditions are upheld.”
Hemani said that the Helenes and the Trojan Knights, which are brother-sister organizations that carry similar missions, typically work together on certain events, like Junior Helenes and Knights mentoring, but that the Knights have not been as involved this semester.
McCann said that though the Knights are inactive, the Helenes have aimed to preserve several traditions, including ringing the Victory Bell at football games.
At the start of the semester, Huerta said she proposed the idea of the Helenes conducting Tommy Watch to Campus Activities.
“The tradition is really important to us,” Huerta said. “In that sense, it almost felt natural for us to say, ‘Hey, we are willing to do [Tommy] too.’”
During the Tommy and Hecuba Watch, the Helenes will be coordinating a hygiene drive for homeless individuals and partnering with Share a Meal to feed homeless people around USC. Last year, the Helenes received over 100 donations and hope that students will be more involved this year.
USC declined to comment on the Trojan Knights suspension. Vice President of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry also declined to comment.
The Daily Trojan also requested comment from multiple members of the Trojan Knights, who did not respond in time for publication.