University must reform campus event policies

The events leading up to Wednesday night’s shooting can only be described with one phrase: playing with fire.

The shooting occurred outside “Freak or Greek,” a Halloween party held at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. The event was promoted by LA Hype in association with the Black Student Assembly, a division of the Undergraduate Student Government’s Program Board. Though USC said non-students were not allowed to attend the party, the opposite stands true: Students at the party reported that many of the attendees were not college students.

The promoters marketed “Freak or Greek” as a party for everyone in Los Angeles, student or otherwise. According to tweets by party promoters, USC students could attend the party, but non-USC attendees were charged varying sums of money to enter the party. One promoter went so far as to tweet that “weird dudes who don’t belong” could attend — if they paid $30. Furthermore, an event page encouraged attendees to “PreGame before the party” because they would be cited if any “substances” were brought on campus.

Simply put, it was outright reckless for the university to allow an outside company to host an on-campus party for individuals who do not attend USC.

This lack of discretion is nothing short of inappropriate, and the groups hosting the event should have better understood that allowing large numbers of non-college, non-USC individuals to attend an on-campus party could create problems. The event not only exploited USC and its resources to make money off outside individuals, but also inadvertently put students — students who perceive the campus as a place of safety and proper enforcement — at risk of injury and even death.

The event’s shameless and inappropriate promotion demonstrates an unsettling lack of judgment and oversight on behalf of the university and the organizations co-hosting the party. Moving forward, it is essential for USC to carefully study and revise its policies on event sponsorship — or face even more dire consequences.


Staff editorials are determined by the editorial board. Its members are Elena Kadvany, Nicholas Slayton, Jennifer Schultz, Eddie Kim, Joey Kaufman and Sean Fitz-Gerald.

43 replies
  1. another USC parent
    another USC parent says:

    Below from Neon Tommy:

    “After numerous calls—and in-person requests—for comment to university officials, Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson sent the media an email saying the following:

    “…The event in question was approved as an exception to the university’s date and time requirements because no alcohol was to be served and to allow the student group to hold an event on Halloween.”

    It is clear, then, that the event was reviewed and approved by USC. It is imperative the University disclose all aspects of the review process. Though it appears to have been removed from the internet, videos of LA Hype at a prior USC party had been available for USC’s review prior to granting the policy exemption. In the interest of USC transparency and fair disclosure, these videos should be secured and made available to every parent and trustee. Bottom line (no pun intended) the theme of booty on crotch is thoroughly explored in the video among other behaviors likely to be viewed as offensive.

    I am not making a censorship or moral statement, but pointing out those who had responsibility to consider an exemption for a party on a weeknight after 10, with the most basic due diligence, could have secured much vivid information regarding the nature of the proposed event and the promoter. It remains imperative that President Nikias, Mr. Jackson and anyone else from USC admin responsible secure and view the video before framing their response and consequences for themselves and others.

    The existing USC weeknight policy would have more than been sufficient to decline an exemption for this promoter and party, if a minimum due diligence had been conducted before apparently “rubber stamping” “Approved”. The comments by Mr. Jackson that he approved the exemption to USC policy because he wanted to provide our students with a Halloween celebration falls flat given that the candy evident from the video of a prior LA hype event was solely eye candy, much of it unwrapped–I could go on with the metaphor. I don’t see how any USC administrator could defend this particular event as appropriate for Halloween at the Tutor Center and not have concerns for potential safety issues.

    Mr. Jackson’s statement, “This incident reminds us that we must look out for ourselves and be particularly vigilant about the personal safety of friends and guests at our social events,” is a particularly vexing platitude as in this case it is the USC admins who did not look out for our students. I am not condoning the poor judgement of the BSA or any other students or student groups involved in the party planning process. I do view college as a learning experience. There is a role and responsibility carved out for party approval and direction by the administration. In this case, the process and administration failed with severe consequences for many. Perhaps most worrisome is the absence of an apology and acknowledgement of inadequate performance by those USC personnel, from President Nikias on down, who bear responsibility.

    • 1982 LAS Alumnus
      1982 LAS Alumnus says:

      If Michael Jackson approved the exemption, then he must resign or be fired, period. Four people were shot in the heart of campus and USC’s reputation has been gravely damaged. His casual lack of personal responsibility in this matter is very disturbing.

        • Anonymous
          Anonymous says:

          Jackson’s statement that “…[t]he event in question was approved as an exception to the university’s date and time requirements because no alcohol was to be served and to allow the student group to hold an event on Halloween” is untrue. “[A]pproved as an exception” implies that someone noticed that it violated the rules and then allowed it to go on anyway. Let’s just say that didn’t happen.

      • North University Park
        North University Park says:

        I read a tiny article in the L A TImes today that a 19 year old security guard with a valid gun license had been arrested in Inglewood. So please stop maligning the North University Park community.

        • Anonymous
          Anonymous says:

          I malign nothing. That said, your community is awful, and, had I been as intimately familiar with it as I am now when I was considering which university to attend, I never would have come to USC. Give it up and leave, already—you’re fighting a losing battle and, at the end of the day, there is nothing all that spectacular for you to defend.

  2. Tired of Twan's ignorance
    Tired of Twan's ignorance says:

    If anything Twan, you’re the bigot and ignorant fool. Not only have you been commenting on this post, but you have been going to every story that the DT has posted making totally outlandish comments and spreading racially charged comments. I have not seen one person here or on any other post use race to justify the penalties that should be carried out as a result of the shooting. It is my sincere hope that you are in fact not related to this institution in any way because it would truly be a poor reflection of the education that you should have received at this institution. To come back and comment with another ignorant remark would only further substantiate my claim. So please, prove me right.

    • Twangottago
      Twangottago says:

      Bravo… the only racist commentary has come from TWAN. Any individual or group that tarnishes the USC image and the Trojan Family in this manner needs to be held accountable. I can think of a few former student-athletes that might be able to attest to that….

  3. Twan
    Twan says:

    The bigotry you all enjoy must be intoxicating. Oh, you gonna get rid of the BSA and Obama all in one week! Hallelujah!

    They may go but I am not!

      • Twan
        Twan says:

        Because my name is Twan and I am a young African American, I must be the party promoter. Following your ridiculous logic, I guess I must be the shooter and the victim as well because we are all young black men. You people with your righteous indignation makes me sick. While all these lily white parents blame USC and the BSA for what happened no one seems to blame the shooter and the gun. He snuck the gun on campus and he shot those people. USC didn’t shoot anyone and neither did the BSA. Those are the facts!

        Why are there so many guns?
        How come an 18 year old can buy a gun on the street?
        Why does that same individual feel he needs a gun?

        The answer here is simple: Money, Crime, Fear and Poverty.

        You collect the money while we live in poverty fearing crime. Welcome to my neighborhood!

        This is the society you people created and we must live in.

        Congratulations, your experiment has failed!

        Lastly, I love all you people calling me out as a racist because I defend the BSA. You all hiding behind your keyboard. Not one of you could say to my face anything you have written about me. You are all cowards!

        • No more Racist
          No more Racist says:

          Please. Noone on this board knew anything about your ethnicity or background, all we know is that you were and still are not seeing the light that had any other on-campus group broken policy, as the BSA did, they would be held accountable.

          The BSA and its leadership should be held accountable and reprimanded. You should consider being more open minded and stop being such a racist.

          The only coward is you; and, yes, I would say that to your face.

          • Twan
            Twan says:

            Prove me wrong and meet me at the fountain in front of Doheny at 6pm tonight. I’m wearing a black track suit with cardinal trim. Call me a coward for defending my people.

  4. Concerned Student
    Concerned Student says:

    The BSA should be placed on probation and/or disbanded immediately because of this disaster. But because they’re a black organization, nothing is going to happen–USC will crack down on the Greek system because most of its members are white, but they won’t touch the BSA for fear of being accused of racism.

  5. PDM
    PDM says:

    So what is your recommendation, DT? I hope it’s not 1982 alumnus’ strategy: point fingers and force student groups to wait 3-6 weeks while lawyers review their party plans.

    I think it’s a mistake to act like this incident is much more than an act of extreme stupidity by the gunman. There are parties and “nightclub events” like these every day in Los Angeles, and a shooting on the sidewalk outside is hardly commonplace.

  6. Dena
    Dena says:

    I love the double standard placed here. Greek row gets absolutely screwed over for trouble caused by non USC students *cough FIDM cough*, while the BSA gets nothing. Just because they’re a club doesn’t mean they can get away with literally murder. Any organization should be held accountable for this kind of incident, regardless of status.

  7. 1982 USC LAS Alumnus
    1982 USC LAS Alumnus says:

    I agree with Mom that the USC Administration and BSA were grossly negligent in sponsoring and permitting such a nightclub or “rave” event to take place in the center of campus. As an attorney who has represented a nightclub owner, I am well aware of the risks posed by nightclubs, including underage drinking, fisticuffs, rowdy behavior and violence. At a minimum, any nightclub requires extra security, including bouncers, chaperones, security guards, and police. Even with such precautions violence is an unavoidable part of the business. The naiveté demonstrated by the USC administration is as shocking as it is pathetic, and no platitudes from President Nikias can excuse their gross negligence, particularly on a night that is generally referred to as “mischief night.” This was a completely avoidable incident. The news has hit virtually all major news outlets in the world, and the damage to USC’s reputation is incalculable at this point. This is what I recommend be done immediately: 1) ban all nightclub events on the USC campus; 2) require all student organizations to submit to the Office of General Counsel for legal review all contracts involving such events sponsored by USC and its student groups; 3) place the BSA on probation to send a clear message that its leadership was wrong and irresponsible for encouraging non-students to attend the nightclub (including any violations of existing USC policies); 4) fire, demote and/or discipline the administrators (and lawyers) who signed-off on the nightclub event at Tutor Hall; 5) host a town-hall-like meeting of all student group leaders and the USC administration to discuss and address the great risks imposed by hosting this type of event on and around campus; and 6) increase the security presence on the USC campus now and for the immediate future to assuage student and parent anxiety. Four people were shot on our beloved campus, an unprecedented tragedy.

    • North University Park
      North University Park says:

      Well said, 1982 alumnas.
      Heads should roll.
      Unfortunately, it is not just USC’s reputation that will be tarnished. Invariably the neighborhoods close to USC will be blamed although the miscreants came from far afield.

  8. Ras
    Ras says:

    Why has the BSA remained silent on this? I want a countdown to the number of days it takes for the BSA to publicly comment on this situation. Just because you are a black organization does not mean you get to hide behind some unspoken politically correct shield that makes whitey look racist if you call out a black person for what is truly thug ghetto behavior. Do we want to get to the root of the problem or do we want to dance around the issue and be apologists just because the shooter was black.

  9. Terry
    Terry says:

    The only racist commenting on this article is TWAN. Shame on TWAN. Grow up.

    The BSA should answer for their actions just as any other on-campus body would have to. For the President of the University to not hold them accountable would be reprehensible.

    DAMIEN, maybe TWAN can find you a job considering he/she seems to have all of the answers.

  10. Trojan Mom
    Trojan Mom says:

    As a Trojan mom of 2, I am furious that this kind of event was allowed and your editorial is quite restrained. I don’t care what organization (and its ethnicity) was the host. It does not matter. USC should not allow itself to be used as a nightclub for outsiders. President Nikias’s address was quite lame and condescending as well. How dare he tell my sons to be vigilant about their personal safety when they have no control over the university environment. Isn’t their safety his job? He and the administrators involved failed every Trojan parent and student by allowing this event.

  11. Damien
    Damien says:

    I had a job interview yesterday and the only comment made about USC on my resume was “did you see the shooting yesterday”. Despicable this is what comes to mind. Glad I spent 250k for that kind of academic credence.

  12. Herman
    Herman says:

    Here is a great idea…Lets invite 1500 18-22 year olds from one of the nation’s most dangerous neighborhoods to the center of a major academic institution on a schoolnight. No mention of race in that sentence. Next lets discuss that you need to be 21 to be at that venue and considering that we know one of the victims was a freshman clearly we know thats not the case. USC wasn’t checking IDs to drink and they sure as heck weren’t checking school IDs. This is gross negligance. It sounds like an all out free for all in the CENTER OF CAMPUS sanctioned by the school. DPS Chief should be replaced. Nikias should be put on watch. BSA should be disbanned. YOU CANNOT HAVE THIS AT A RESPECTABLE INSTITUTION.

      • Herman
        Herman says:

        I’d say the same thing about inviting 1500 drunk white kids from community college or no college at all to party on campus too. This is a private university. Keep low-lives away.

  13. Swann
    Swann says:

    I’m curious if the university really needs to reform the policy itself. The policy says that students from other universities can attend sanctioned events with a university ID. There just should have been DPS at the door checking the IDs instead of some random person. Also, since the shooting happened outside, there’s no guarantee that would have prevented it either. I don’t think it’s a negative look on the University, as the event at its core was a very fine event: a sober Halloween party, within the safety of DPS and the university gates. It is the promoters and the BSA that should be in trouble for handling promotion of the party the way they did, effectively working around university policies meant to keep bad things from happening. In the end, however, there’s just no way to prevent some bozo (even if it were a USC-only function) from bringing a weapon and doing something stupid on campus. There’s only education and vigilance.

  14. usc student
    usc student says:

    Great article. Thank you “daily trojan” for being the voice of the student body. The school seems to be skirting around the facts which are- this was a HIGHLY publicly promoted event. The organizers “LA Hype” were taking advantage of USC and luring random people, for profit, that created an unsafe atmosphere for everyone.Its not like this was happening behind closed doors. Its not about more security, its the enforcement of policy that could have prevented this to begin with.
    It saddens me that the BSA is included in this, but race is IRRELEVANT. If this was a fraternity house, they would have to answer too, as should the BSA. Its about the safety of the ENTIRE student body. Hopefully this is a wake up call to ALL student organizations and school officials.

  15. 1982 USC LAS Now Dornsife Alumnus
    1982 USC LAS Now Dornsife Alumnus says:

    The Black Students Association is primarily responsible for allowing such an event to take place and the consequential shootings, knowing full well that non-USC students would attend or be encouraged to attend the USC “nightclub” on campus. USC needs to treat the BSA like any other student organization, such as and including a fraternity, and place the BSA on probation NOW. USC is not a trashy, Westwood-like nightclub, and the BSA needs to be reminded of who they represent. Their student leaders demonstrated supreme irresponsibility, immaturity and a profound lack of judgment in transforming USC’s venerable Tudor venue into a low-life nightclub. Just as culpable are the USC administrators who sanctioned such a nightclub-like event. What were they thinking? If you create a nightclub in the middle of campus, knowing that non-USC students more likely than not will attend, what do you expect? Where were the “adults” in this decision-making process? If you wanted to create nightclub on campus, where was the security, the bouncers, and more importantly, where was the USC General Counsel in the decision-making process; wait, don’t tell me, at the Latham & Watkins box at Staples????

  16. SCAlum
    SCAlum says:

    The story covers the facts. Would it be racist if “Black Student Assembly” was replaced with “(name any other organization)”? What happened and the news coverage afterward have NOTHING to do with skin color. It’s about the safety of ALL students! Let’s focus on the real issues at hand – university violating its’ own policies, invitations via social media inviting the public toand student events on campus, and ultimately how the USC admininstration takes handles the aftermath to ensure the safety of our students in the future. No exceptions!

  17. jeff
    jeff says:

    Both USC and the BSA need to answer for this, and not through a vague, half-assed reassurance letter. There is a problem here, and it’s not going away this time – count on it. It better not be that the only change is to the policy.

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