Student organizations, leaders publish statement on sexual assault

Over 20 student organizations and student leaders from across USC released a statement Thursday to show support for the victims of former campus doctors George Tyndall and Dennis Kelly and demand the University to take accountability.

“We are deeply ashamed of USC’s inability to fully address and take fault in the sexual assault allegations that have scarred our entire community,” the statement read. “It is appalling that our university has consistently muffled the voices of students despite riding the coattails of students’ accomplishments and diversity.”

Asian Pacific American Student Assembly director Joy Shin, who worked with advocacy chair Richelle Caday to draft the statement, said that after attending events like the Feb. 20 solidarity rally and Feb. 27 Engemann Town Hall, where students had the opportunity to voice their concerns to USC officials and push for change, she felt that students weren’t being heard.

“We didn’t want student voices to be ignored, and we were really baffled at the fact that any university could do this and not take fault,” said Shin, a senior majoring in social sciences economics. “Our university just cares more about its image than the safety of its students, so … we decided to take initiative because we were really appalled at the situation.”

Caday, a sophomore majoring in psychology and non-governmental organizations and social change, said that once the statement was drafted, they reached out to other assemblies such as the Queer and Ally Student Assembly, Latinx Student Assembly, Environmental Student Assembly and Black Student Assembly forco-sponsors.

The statement includes a list of nine demands for the University, including providing rape kits on campus, funding monthly transparency meetings and town halls for students and involving students in the staff hiring process. Shin said she has been working with Undergraduate Student Government President Debbie Lee to plan how to move forward with these demands. Shin plans to present the ideas at a USG Senate meeting and to University officials who can help create change.

Caday said she wants to communicate and work with University leaders and administrators to ensure that the demands are met.

“All of these things are things that are doable that the administration can do,” Caday said. “We’re not asking for a complete radical change of the University, it’s just … little changes that will go a long way in how USC’s campus culture is right now.”

Shin said she hopes the statement helps victims and other students see that there are leaders on campus working for them.

“[I thought] it would be really important to let survivors know that even though our university clearly doesn’t prioritize safety, there are people who do and will be working on your behalf to make sure that this university can be something that we’re proud of for years to come,” Shin said.