Twenty students gathered for a sit-in on the USC Village Great Lawn Friday night to promote the protection of green space areas after learning about the University’s plans to build more student housing on the popular green space.
USC is required to build additional student housing in the northwest portion of USC Village under a 2012 University Park Campus development agreement with the city, according to a University statement to the Daily Trojan. Students organizing the demonstration said the University should value student input during the building process.
“We want to either save the lawn or start a conversation about how we can preserve green space and make [USC] Village more open to the local community,” said Bree Vance, a sophomore majoring in English and French.
Vance, who helped organize the protest, said USC should disclose more details about the development to students and encouraged more dialogue between the University and students on the issue. The University said it is willing to consider student suggestions.
“We value our students’ input and have been meeting together to listen to comments about the Great Lawn area and green spaces overall,” the University statement said. “We are considering all possible options before determining next steps.”
During the sit-in, participants filled out suggestion cards to voice concerns about losing green space on campus and how it can be incorporated in future development. Currently, the main green spaces on campus are the USC Village Great Lawn, McCarthy Quad and Alumni Park. Students also played frisbee and ate snacks during the sit-in on the Great Lawn.
Anna Rogers, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering and Chinese, said she values the green space as an escape from USC’s primarily urban environment.
“I think that if we’re restricting what little access we have to the outdoors on campus it’s just detrimental to everybody who can’t get off and outside of this concrete jungle,” Rogers said.
Vance and fellow organizer Julius Ball-Heldman, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, also filmed students during the sit-in talking about the USC Village Great Lawn for a short documentary they plan to make on protecting green space at USC. The organizers plan to share the film with President Carol Folt.
Heldman said he hopes the sit-in will show that students care about the lawn and push the University to consider alternative building plans to protect the space. He said these plans could include preserving a portion of the lawn by adding more floors to existing dorms or creating a new lawn after additional housing is built.
Julia Silba, a junior majoring in global health, grew up in the area surrounding the University Park Campus and said that the green space in USC Village encourages a more cohesive community that allows people to appreciate the outdoors together.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a green space here … for people to engage in physical activity or just enjoy the environment,” Silba said.