USG calls on USC to continue support for marginalized students

Undergraduate Student Government is calling on USC to continue to support vulnerable communities who are disadvantaged by the closure of campus amenities and period of online instruction due to coronavirus. In a press release shared Saturday on Instagram, USG said it hopes the University will offer additional resources to the student body should more restrictive measures be required.

“The University has to take very drastic steps to be able to protect the health and safety of the whole community right now,” said USG President Trenton Stone in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “What we’re trying to do is reaffirm that there’s other implications that we also have to consider through all of these decisions.”

Cosponsored by Trojan Shelter and cosigned by several political, cultural and advocacy assemblies, including International Student Assembly, Black Student Assembly, Student Assembly for Accessibility and College Democrats at USC, the press release asks the University for sustained support of low-income students, students with disabilities, international students and students facing housing insecurity.

“With 20% of the student body eligible for Pell grants and over 11,000 total international students on campus, we fear that a sizable number of our classmates will be stripped of the means to meet their basic needs, most crucially housing and food, in light of travel restrictions, work interruptions, and quarantines,” the statement read.

Matthew Lee, the director of media at Trojan Shelter and main author of the press release, said although he believes USC has accommodated students at risk, he and his coworkers were still uncertain about the way the University’s future decisions would impact the community.

“I got a lot of concerns from students, people on our team just saying that they’re really, really worried that USC would take measures similar to what we’ve seen with Smith University and Harvard University, when they just kind of kicked out all their students unanimously,” Lee said. “Though USC has really been really good about making sure that these things have been taken care of … I think a lot of us were still concerned that we were still at will or under the authority and power of the University.”

In light of the evolving nature of the coronavirus pandemic, USG said it hopes the University will maintain its commitment to marginalized students in the event of a campus shutdown by providing housing vouchers or rooms at the USC Hotel, granting emergency aid, keeping the Trojan Food Pantry open, relaunching the virtual food pantry and making internet connection accessible. 

“We recognize that USC proactively works on many of the issues identified above, but we hope that codifying and institutionally developing and promoting them can provide some peace of mind to students in the interim, and crucial resources to them, especially if the situation worsens,” the statement read.