The USC Trojan Council, comprises the presidents and vice presidents of the Undergraduate and Graduate Student governments, Academic Senate and Staff Assembly, held its second University Forum Monday evening. While the Trojan Council is recognized by some member organizations such as USG, GSG and Staff Assembly, it still lacks formal external recognition from the University.
“With regards to the Trojan Council, we’ve existed for a while, but we’ve kickstarted what we’ve been doing as an organization in the past two semesters,” USG Vice President Mahin Tahsin said. “I think there’s a lot of work we can do, what kind of collaborative force we can bring and what kind of issues we can really highlight for our University.”
The forum, held once a semester, invites students, staff and faculty to openly discuss ideas, suggestions and concerns with University leadership. The event took place at the Tutor Campus Center on the University Park Campus and was live broadcasted to the Health Sciences Campus.
Members of the new senior administration, including President Carol Folt, Provost Charles Zukowski and Senior Vice President for Human Resources Felicia Washington, were in attendance at the forum.
“This was our second-ever University Forum that we know of and I think it went incredibly well, particularly because it’s the first time where I think we brought together the larger USC community since a lot of administrative change,” USG President Trenton Stone said. “It was a good opportunity to have them in the room and hear from members of the Trojan Family that they probably have not met before. I think that’s really encouraging that [the senior administration] really [does] want this feedback and they really are trying to look at how to improve the University, especially those that are new in their role.”
The presidents of each body moderated the conversation revolving around four topics: communication, interconnectivity across campuses, community wellness and sustainability before the floor was opened to concerns related to all issues.
Ideas ranged from streamlining the communication of safety and DPS reports to increase the availability of resources for students of color, to the University’s lack of preparedness for natural disasters.
The forum allowed community members to express issues of personal relevance to them, especially regarding the university’s support in alleviating the cost of living for students, faculty and staff. Concerns about food insecurity, homelessness and the clear economic disparity between students were discussed during the event.
“I guess your own personal experiences, a lot of times, dictates what you want to be brought up, so I was really happy with the low-income voice that was brought up and the attention to needing food accessibility, because as a low-income student, that’s something that is super vital,” said Correy McGlynn, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention studies.
“I really appreciated the personal stories that were shared to give a grounded aspect to the problems that students, staff, faculty, everyone across the University is facing, as well as the range of tangibility of projects,” said Truman Fritz, USG Senior Director of Communications.
However, the forum’s format as a listening session resulted in a desire from attendees to engage in direct dialogue and discussion with senior leadership.
“There were promises of ‘We’re going to listen, and also take action on this,’ and that’s up to them to do. We’ll be the judges of that in the coming months,” said Nathan Delgado, a senior majoring in economics.
The Council’s next steps after their formal recognition are to better facilitate this engagement.
“I definitely think there’s room for improvement to be able to have more direct engagement, and I think our priority will be trying to figure out how to move forward with that and encourage those around us to participate in those types of engaging dialogue,” Stone said.
Yet, some leaders believed that the Forum represented a move toward more collective efforts to fixing university issues.
“I think the Trojan Council as a whole can really bring that force, and bring the entire constituency of USC together to push forward the needs that students, faculty and staff all have,” Tahsin said.