Campus climate group holds first meeting

Students attended the first general body meeting of the USC Campus Climate Coalition on Wednesday to inform the student body about its progress toward making the community safer and more inclusive.

Attendees included members of the Campus Climate Coalition Core, a group of 20-25 students who developed the Campus Climate Resolution last semester, which was passed on Nov. 10, 2015 by the Undergraduate Student Government Senate, and others personally affected by the state of the campus. Students expressed frustration with the administration’s handling of their movement and discussed their personal experience surrounding diversity at the University as well as the coalition’s future direction.

According to Moira Turner, director of diversity affairs for the Undergraduate Student Government, the national movement toward discussions on diversity across college campuses, the history of injustice on campus, and the lack of implementation of most points of the Campus Climate Resolution spurred the coalition to strengthen its position.

“We’re trying to affect the institutional mechanisms that create the culture on this campus,” Turner said.

USG Residential Senator Sabrina Enriquez also felt that students’ individual experiences with discrimination enhanced the need for the meeting.

“We want everyone to have the college experience they were promised when they toured the school, and what we’ve found is so many marginalized students are not,” Enriquez said. “That has a lot to do with structural and cultural forces.”

The meeting began with introductions, where students and others associated with their cause talked about how they found out about the meeting and how the issue affected them.

After the introductions, Turner presented the timeline of events from last semester, including the approval of the Campus Climate Resolution by USG and the Graduate Student Government and the formation of the Provost’s Diversity Task Force.

Members of the core expressed discontent with the lack of change since the passing of the resolution and discussed their experiences in dealing with the administration.

“It’s really frustrating, the fact that administration continually ignored those cries of help,” Turner said.

Though the administration has talked to students and has implemented parts of the resolution, such as requiring diversity training for student leaders, students at the meeting felt that not enough was being accomplished.

“If we decide that we want to get through this entire resolution through meetings, it’ll be in approximately 25 years,” Enriquez said.

After the resolution was passed, the coalition divided into seven “working arms” — general body, education, marketing, story sharing, direct action, alumni and advisory council — in order to apply pressure to the administration from various sides.

The education branch of the core shared promotion tactics with the general student body, while the story sharing branch explained its task to document student perspectives, including an upcoming project to record student perspectives on why cultural centers are important.

On Friday, the coalition will send a proposal to Provost Michael Quick demanding that the gates around campus, which coalition members argue have led to increased racial profiling and discrimination on campus, go down after a 40-person meeting garnered full support for the initiative.

“These gates have created a physical and symbolic barrier between USC and the surrounding community,” Enriquez said. “It’s been internalized by many members of the community and has led to a lot of hostility. There’s a big contradiction.”

The coalition would like to have others give feedback to what change they’d like to see as they plan their next steps.

“Most of the future is very unwritten at the moment,” Enriquez said. “We’re planning, we’re organizing, we’re strategizing how to get everything in the Campus Climate Resolution done. We want everything that’s in our document implemented.”

Turner agreed with the coalition’s purpose.

“We’re trying to bring this to the forefront of university conversation on what’s going on on campus and trying to make a change,” she said.