University leaders welcome new students at Convocation

Incoming students and their families gathered in McCarthy Quad on Thursday to hear from University leadership and to be officially inducted into USC at the annual New Student Convocation.

Speakers touched on the multiple scandals USC has faced in the past months, but focused on the new direction in which the University plans to move.

“Sun shines on this profound and exciting moment, but a shadow falls on it too,” said Varun Soni, the dean of religious life at USC.

Soni opened the ceremony by welcoming the new students to the Trojan Family while not shying away from the fact that the campus has been facing challenging events. Dr. Wanda Austin was recently appointed as interim president by the USC Board of Trustees after C.L. Max Nikias stepped down following a slew of scandals.

“The University community that you are now joining has been struggling to process events on campus that have shaken us to our core,” Soni said. “As a University community, we also begin a new journey – a long, shared journey of hope, healing and justice.”

In her speech, Austin echoed sentiments expressed in a letter sent to the student body on Wednesday. Austin said the University has faced an “especially challenging time” over the past year.

“It is because of you and those that come after you,” Austin said, “that our University’s leadership is committed to bringing about change that will make our light shine brighter in both purpose and action.”

Austin noted that she was not expecting to become interim president, saying she thought she would be enjoying the celebration of convocation sitting among her fellow Trustees.

Undergraduate Student Government President, Debbie Lee, addressed the new students by sharing three lessons she has learned in her time at USC. One of those lessons was that USC is the “perfect place to fail.”

“The reality is I’m not perfect, we are all not perfect and this school is not perfect,” Lee said. “When we put all of these factors together, we are all bound to fail at some point in our lives.”

Lee noted that USC has a “spectrum” of resources available to students to help them through their college life.

“You are taught and led by some of the most compassionate and inspirational professors, staff and administrators,” Lee said.