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Day of Peace and Action Set for Thursday at USC

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photo via Campus + Community United
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USC is probably the last school in town at which you'd expect to find a student body actively engaged in administrative injustices and campus policy but that may be starting to change. "The tide is beginning to turn as USC continues to upset certain members of its community," said Max Hoiland, one of the student organizers behind the march and rally, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Thursday in the United University Church parking lot and concluding with a rally near the Bovard library.

As many as 150 people are expected to participate in the rally from 16 organizations including 13 student groups, said Hoiland. A letter to the provost signed by dozens of organizations asks for social responsibility from university administration, among other things. Campus and Community United is fighting for affordable student housing while advocating for the community surrounding the campus, into which the university is planning to expand in coming years. Other organizations are standing in solidarity with the student groups, said Hoiland, including the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which is fighting its own battle to renegotiate fair and reasonable contracts for its staff at University Hospital.

For a privately funded university with over 725 student organizations, it's only natural that many student groups to coalesce around common issues including free speech, campus expansion, community engagement, and otherwise keeping in check an administration which has turned a blind eye to NCAA sports regulations (sanctioned last year in mens hoops and football) and responded unsatisfactorily (according to some students) to a highly-publicized email scandal involving a Kappa Sigma fraternity member last month.

The text of the students' letter to USC President Max Nikias is below:

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We the undersigned believe that the University has a responsibility to collaborate with students, faculty, employees, and community residents on issues essential to fostering a diverse, safe, and healthy learning and working environment. As you have previously stated, “We live in a community, and we live for a community”. As individuals and organizations committed to issues of social responsibility such as poverty alleviation, peacemaking, human rights, and community development, we recognize our shared values and the powerful role the University can play in forwarding the cause of social justice. The purpose of the enclosed document is to highlight some of the current and past efforts of our diverse campus and community to act in good faith with the University to address pressing issues that face people affected by the administration’s policies and practices. As the largest private employer in Los Angeles County, we believe that the University can and should put its economic, social, and political weight behind improving conditions for the people it impacts.

We hope that the Day of Peace and Action will serve as a call to consciousness and accountability for the entire campus. It is imperative that USC administration and students recognize their responsibilities to the community, both on and off campus. The accompanying “Banner of Solidarity” serves as an artistic expression of social justice-related grievances that need to be addressed by the campus community. Above all, this demonstration shows that the undersigned groups are a networked coalition, united by shared commitments, with the structure and resources to support strong and wide-reaching collaboration and direct action.

Sincerely,

Campus and Community United
Coalition for a Safer Campus and Community
Creating Just Communities
Fight on for Darfur
Food Not Bombs (USC Chapter)
International Socialist Organization
MEChA
National Union of Healthcare Workers
The Nook
Peace Center
Social Justice League
Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation
Student Coalition for Asian Pacific Empowerment
Students for Justice in Palestine
Technicolor Tree Tribe Coop
United University Church
...