The Undergraduate Student Government unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday urging University leaders and administrators to reevaluate USC’s ties to Terranea Resort, which was dismissed as a party to a sexual harassment suit last May.
USC Sports Properties, a division of FOX Sports Media Group and Home Team Sports, is listed as an official partner of Terranea Resort. The resort has been USC Athletics’ official hotel since 2012. Keck School of Medicine also hosts conferences and events there.
The resolution requests that USC revoke sponsorships, conferences and hotel bookings from the resort in light of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct from eight women during their employment at the hotel.
USG drafted the resolution following the Daily Trojan’s coverage of USC’s connection to Terranea Resort.
“When you fund an institution whose practices you don’t agree with, you are essentially complicit in those same practices, even if you are not an actor yourself,” Sen. Michaela Murphy said. “It would be really incredible if this resolution helped pave a way for the University to really reevaluate the power it has.”
The resolution was supported by the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment and co-authored by Murphy, Director of External Affairs Alec Vandenberg and the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation.
“We’re very concerned about how our University [affiliates], how we’re financially supporting an institution that we have a lot of troubling evidence of alleged wrongdoing,” Vandenberg said. “Especially in light of scandals with Engemann, USC has not been known to be proactive in dealing with issues of sexual harassment.”
In a statement to the Daily Trojan, Terranea Resort President Terri Haack disputed some of the information presented in the resolution.
“Terranea has carefully examined the alleged complaints of harassment against the resort, and not a single one could be corroborated,” Haack wrote. “It is important to note that none of these complaints came to the surface during our first eight years of operation.”
UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing over 30,000 workers in Southern California, launched the #MeTooTerranea boycott against the hotel and its partner organizations, including USC. Haack alleges that UNITE HERE Local 11 is pressuring employees to unionize.
“[The allegations] only emerged after labor union Unite Here Local 11 launched a smear campaign designed to force Terranea to agree to a flawed path to unionization in which our employees would be denied their federally protected right to a secret-ballot vote,” Haack wrote.
Haack said she has enforced a no-tolerance policy for harassment at Terranea and that every complaint received thorough investigation.
“Every canceled event at Terranea takes precious hours away from our housekeepers, our banquet staff and employees throughout the resort,” Haack wrote. “It infuriates me that the burden of the boycott is falling on the very employees the union pretends to be eager to protect.”
Vandenberg said the University should schedule a meeting with USG within a month of receiving the resolution, which will be sent to various leaders at the University in the next few days.
“So, it’s not to say that the University can never contract with them again, but to temporarily severe and disaffiliate itself from that resort until [the resort] creates a culture and a workplace of dignity for all workers,” Vandenberg said.
Murphy hopes USG will hold University leaders accountable.
“Now that [the resolution] is passed, we have the opportunity … to make sure that this resolution lands on the desks of the dozens of administrators that we added as recipients of the resolution,” Murphy said. “Now our responsibility is personally following up with each individual administrator.”
USG will now present the resolution to University administrators including Keck Medicine of USC CEO Thomas E. Jackiewicz, Keck School of Medicine Dean Laura Mosqueda, Athletic Director Lynn Swann, Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry, Provost Michael Quick and Interim President Wanda Austin.
“We have an impact [on] different communities whether we recognize it ourselves or not,” Murphy said. “It would be really meaningful to see a long term culture shift in USC.”