After raising $22,120 through a GoFundMe account, a group of faculty members took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times on March 23 in order to publicly express their support for immigrants, international students and vulnerable members of the community.
The ad, which was signed by 314 faculty members, professed to uphold the core values of the University, encourage University efforts to provide critical resources and protect the human rights of all members of the USC community.
Ariela Gross, a professor of law and history at the USC Gould School of Law, established the GoFundMe account and was one of the main coordinators of the effort.
“The first action we decided to take was to take out a full-page ad in the L.A. Times in order to express very publicly the strong support of a broad group of USC faculty for our immigrant communities and to urge and support our university administration’s effort to protect our students no matter what happens,” Gross said.
Gross hoped that the ad would encourage the University to take direct action to implement policies and allot resources in order to show its support in a more overt manner. For example, Gross looked to set up resource centers specifically for immigrants and international students affected as well as establish emergency funds for legal counsel, with the goal of facilitating more cooperation between those in need of aid and those capable of providing aid.
“We’re going to be scheduling teach-ins and training sessions for students and others in our community to be prepared for various contingencies, if they do happen,” Gross said. “We’re trying to have a more coordinative response as well in terms of the way we communicate on these issues to the outside world.”
Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano, said student response to the ad has been positive. Vela noted that his students exhibited appreciation and gratitude for the show of support.
“I think there was a real excitement and appreciation to hear from faculty in support of students and in particular the more vulnerable students on campus,” Vela said. “In particular, I think one student saw that faculty were talking against discrimination, against bigotry, and really being supportive of our community. I can only see it as the Trojan family coming together.”
Vela hoped that the ad would open up more avenues of communication and spark productive discussion between the University’s staff and students that could lead to concrete action.
“It’s more powerful when you have the University really engaging with our students and our student leaders,” Vela said. “That’s when you really have community because then you have discussion, you have dialogue. The Trojan family should be one where we can discuss and talk about things and use our critical thinking to come up with a plan together.”
Tomás Mier contributed to this report.