For some, this year’s Homecoming was a time for reunion and celebration, a brief return to the hazy memories of college. For others, Homecoming was a socially acceptable excuse for day drinking. But, for certain Black and Latinx tailgaters, the excitement was dulled and constrained by a large chain-link fence — and the oppressive presence of law enforcement officers.
The mental image is a gruesome one — the reality, even worse.
Past the white picket fencing of McCarthy Quad on a relatively tiny square of grass, wire fencing rose high above the tailgaters. Inside were the primarily Black and brown students of Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Phi Beta and Lambda Upsilon Lambda’s tailgate.
The section was limited to 200 people and guarded by members of the Department of Public Safety and Los Angeles Police Department. However, there appeared to be space for more, according to one witness who spoke with the Daily Trojan.
Another attendee, a former member of Omega Phi Beta, stated that specific area had only fit two Greek organizations the year before and had always been open to the public.
There is a great discrepancy between administrative and witness views regarding the fencing and increased security: Patrick Auerbach, who represents the Alumni Association as the associate senior vice president for alumni relations, defended that the fence was raised as per protocol for organizations choosing to serve alcohol.
Auerbach also claimed that the three organizations’ representatives had requested the area and thus knew of the 200-person maximum capacity ahead of the tailgate. However, graduate student Nadine Isaacs — an attendee who penned an online petition calling for administrative action — told the Daily Trojan that an alumnus had raised concerns regarding the discriminatory nature of the layout, only for them to be dismissed by organizers.
Whether intentional or not, the social implications of effectively segregating a group of people of color from the rest of the students and alumni, and enforcing that isolation through excessive police presence, nullifies the Alumni Association’s excuse of following protocol. To be frank, it is only from utter ignorance — a crime in itself — or intentional discrimination that organizers could have thought this situation acceptable.
A small space fenced off for three large Greek societies of color, with only a fraction of their members allowed in by security and police officers — if this is not deemed discriminatory, then the sky may as well not blue, and USC is no longer a university steeped in scandal and privilege.
During a time when immigrant children are held captive, imprisoned behind chain-link fencing, the same fencing has no place on our campus, where it is used to disadvantage certain groups of people. The practice is distasteful blatantly unjust and must be discontinued.
Fortunately, there is a way to get involved. Isaacs’ Change.org petition, named “SegreGATED USC Tailgate,” is nearing its 1000 signature goal. Just a tap on a computer or smartphone contributes to the momentum of this message.
At this point, it is apparently too much to expect common decency — from students, from administration, from the University. The stench of inequality has long perfumed campus, and those in power have made no moves toward change. If there is to be reform, it won’t come easily. Only through continued persistence and student involvement will the University be forced to take notice of this atrocity.
Change is not a gift — it is a spoil of war.