Coalition of Students, Clergy, Labor, and Community Groups Send Letter to LA County District Attorney Demanding an Immediate and Comprehensive Investigation of USC Police Department

The letter to County District Attorney George Gascón calls attention to USC’s track-record of hiring officers with past allegations of excessive force and racial discrimination and demands a full-scale investigation of civil suits filed against the USC Police Department, allegations of serious officer misconduct, use of excessive force, and racial profiling.

LOS ANGELES – On the heels of a guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, and the growing nationwide momentum to reimagine public safety, the USC Forward Coalition is calling on recently elected LA County District Attorney George Gascón to open a comprehensive investigation into USC Police Department.

The letter to D.A. Gascon arrives just two months after the USC Forward Coalition released its groundbreaking report exposing the USC Police Department’s track-record of hiring former LAPD officers with a history of excessive force and racial discrimination allegations, credibility and dishonesty issues, and officer-involved shootings. The exposé highlights five USC police officers with a record of documented misconduct allegations and officer-involved shootings and draws a cloud of suspicion over the entire USC Police Department.

The demand for the investigation is the latest action by the USC Forward Coalition to end the USC Police Department’s detrimental impact on the University’s neighbors in South Los Angeles, and residents near USC’s satellite facilities in East Los Angeles. In addition, they’re calling on the University to abolish its Police Department and reinvest that budget to expand accessibility and affordability for South Los Angeles and East Los Angeles low-income students

Capital & Main Takes a Deep Dive into our Report on USC’s Hiring of Officers Fired by the LAPD

Capital & Main is putting our USC-DPS investigative report in the spotlight with a deep dive into what’s going down with the USC police.

In case you missed it, our report exposes USC-DPS’ track record of hiring former LAPD officers with a history of excessive force and racial discrimination allegations, credibility and dishonesty issues, and officer-involved shootings.

KABC-7 Covers our Abolish USC Police Rally

On the heels of our ground-breaking report exposing USC-DPS hiring of fired LAPD officers, KABC-7 reports on our rally calling for USC to abolish the USC police.

USC Forward’s Coalition of Students, Clergy, Labor and Community Groups led a Caravan to USC Dept. of Public Safety to Demand the Abolishment of USC Police Force

Dozens of students, community members, clergy, and labor allies led a car caravan today through South Los Angeles to the USC Department of Public Safety (USC-DPS) to hold a press conference demanding the university take immediate steps to abolish the USC police force and reinvest those funds in expanding scholarships for low-income students.
Our coalition, led by ACCE, Eastside LEADS, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called on the University to reallocate $50 million from the current USC DPS budget to fund scholarships for 2,000 LAUSD students in the USC Nexus area, and to work with community leaders to develop an affordable housing land trust.

The caravan coincided will the release of our new report that exposes USC-DPS’ track-record of hiring former LAPD officers with a history of excessive force and racial discrimination allegations, credibility and dishonesty issues, and officer-involved shootings.  The most glaring example includes the hiring of LAPD Sergeant Peter Foster, who was at the center of a $1.2 million lawsuit stemming from racist behavior and pranks, alleging, among other things, that Foster gifted a Black officer a cake topped with fried chicken and a slice of watermelon.
In addition, the report highlights 4 other police officers with a record of documented misconduct allegations and officer-involved shootings and cites examples of the USC Police’s negative impacts on community members and students, particularly Blacks and Latinos, at or near the university campus and off-campus facilities.

Black Lives Matter LA leader Melina Abdullah joined the caravan at the intersection of Hoover and Jefferson to call on USC officials to abolish the USC Police force after decades of racial profiling in neighboring communities.
“If there’s one place we don’t need police, it’s on our campuses. We say cops off campus – right now!” said Abdullah.

This is the second time over the past several months that our coalition takes to the campus to call on USC Officials to do away with its police force, and it won’t be the last.
Download the report here.

South LA Community Leads Caravan and Rally to Demand City Build Affordable Housing, Not Luxury Hotel at Former Site of Bethune Library

USC Forward joined scores of South Los Angeles residents, clergy, and labor allies in a car caravan through South LA to USC demanding the Los Angeles City Council develop affordable housing at the site of the former Bethune Library, a site that has been selected for the development of a new luxury hotel.

Our action comes just weeks after a letter signed by over 20 South LA community organizations was sent to Los Angeles City Councilmembers, calling on elected officials to prioritize public land for public good.
The ongoing gentrification and rapid development of South Los Angeles has had a devastating impact on long-time residents, and has already led to massive displacement. A 2013 study determined that more than 80% of families that lived on the two blocks of 36th Place between Catalina Street and Vermont Avenue—half of a block north of the Bethune Library site—were displaced between 2003 and 2013.

Speakers from the UNIDAD Coalition, ACCE, and the LA Tenants Union spoke out about the lasting economic fallout of COVID-19, and the need for our elected officials take swift action to ensure the long-term stability of South LA residents.
A recently released report by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy on the intersection of the long-standing housing crisis and the COVID-19 crisis warned that “[w]ithout intelligent planning and immediate action, Los Angeles faces the prospect of many thousands of people, including families with children, joining the thousands already on the streets or living in their vehicles. Unless Los Angeles officials take immediate action now, they will then be forced to scramble to erect something like refugee camps, on a scale never before seen in the United States.”
We’re not done turning up the heat at USC! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates!

USC Students, Clergy, Labor, and Community Groups Caravan to USC DPS to Demand University Abolish Police Force

Dozens of students, community members, clergy, and labor allies led a car caravan through South Los Angeles to the USC Department of Public Safety to hold a press conference demanding the university take immediate steps to abolish the USC police force and reinvest those funds in affordable housing for the surrounding community.

The coalition, led by Creating Justice, ACCE, USC Forward, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also called for an end to restrictive campus security measures aimed at keeping local residents out of USC facilities, and a commitment by the university to recruit and admit at least 1,000 students annually from LAUSD schools, with full scholarships.

The USC Department of Public Safety operates through an agreement with the Los Angeles Police Department, and is one of the largest campus police forces in the nation, with a whopping $50 million annual budget. USC administrators have done little to address over policing and racial profiling on campus, despite substantial judgments levied against the Department of Public Safety in recent years.
While our caravan was initially stopped at the University’s gates, students, community, and labor allies blocked the intersection of Vermont and Downey for over 30 minutes with chants of “Abolish USC Police.” Soon after, campus security opened the gates, and our coalition led a delegation directly to DPS HQ.


Our actions are continuing all summer long – Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates!

Graduate and Undergraduate Students, Community Leaders, and Clergy Erect Tent City at USC Campus

On Saturday, a broad coalition including community leaders, South L.A. residents, and USC students, erected a Tent City at the edge of the USC campus, demanding immediate accountability from university administrators in the wake of the most recent scandals rocking higher education.
Participants are calling for immediate reform from university administrators for their fundamental role in perpetuating gentrification, displacement, and income inequality in Los Angeles, and have urged incoming USC President Dr. Carol Folt to reverse the university’s course.
The coalition’s demands, which include increased access for low-income students, affordable housing for residents displaced by the university’s rapid development, and fair compensation and the right to organize without interference, were delivered to university administration in a letter last Wednesday.
The Tent City is expected to remain at the edge of campus until the coalition’s demands are met. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates.



A Call for Accountability

Fellow Graduate Students,
We at USC Forward stand with survivors of sexually abusive conduct by USC physician Dr. George Tyndall. For us, standing with survivors means fighting against an institutional culture that tolerates sexual violence. It also means advocating for graduate students, workers and community members whose voices have been and continue to be ignored by the administration.
On May 16, the Los Angeles Times published an article that included several accounts of sexually abusive and inappropriate behavior spanning decades of Tyndall’s tenure. Since the article’s publication, more than 300 students have contacted USC with further accounts of Tyndall’s abuse. Many of those include USC’s most vulnerable populations—international students, women and gender nonconforming students of color, and students for whom English might have been a second language. The university has done little to address the flood of allegations in a systematic and democratic way.
We hold the USC administration, particularly President Nikias and the Board of Trustees, accountable for permitting Tyndall’s abuse to continue for years. We share in the outrage of students, staff, and faculty who question why Tyndall’s actions were not reported to the California Medical Board nor to law enforcement after the first complaint.
As a graduate student union, we believe the scope of administrative wrongdoing extends beyond Tyndall. This is merely the latest instance in USC’s long pattern of neglect regarding  sexual assault and harassment across the university. In a recent climate survey, a staggering 30 percent of USC undergraduate women reported experiencing sexual harassment or assault while enrolled as a student. In that sample of 27 institutions, USC had the distinction of being tied for frontrunner. These alarming numbers indicate a problem not only with due process but a culture of silence and complicity, clearly evidenced by the university’s relationship with Tyndall and with other abusers on our campus. This is not to mention the reports of sexual harassment of workers we have encountered in our own and affiliated union organizing, where many vulnerable communities feel particularly forced into silence as their employment and education are on the line.
We believe the resignation of Nikias and the dissolution of the Board of Trustees are the first steps in a much broader process that must dramatically shift the University’s culture of complicity. The University should also account for the long history of sexual misconduct that the administration has ignored, dismissed, obscured, or misrepresented either in content or significance.
We stand firm with our fellow students, staff, and faculty to demand genuine and democratic accountability from the university. For us at USC Forward, this is an issue of our rights as graduate students and workers— the ability to feel safe, assured in our well-being, and the capacity to advocate for ourselves in our place of work and study. We demand a system that is concerned with preventing sexual harassment and assault and cultivating a culture of care that prioritizes the university’s most vulnerable populations.
The work to build a safer and better USC cannot happen alone. We ask you to stand with survivors of sexual harassment and abuse and those who have pledged their support in solidarity.
If you would like to be involved in our efforts or learn more about USC Forward, please contact us at uscforwardgsoc@gmail.com to receive updates and information on upcoming meetings and actions. We will be organizing in coordination with student and faculty groups in the weeks to come, and hope you can join in solidarity as we fight to create a university we can all be proud of.
Muriel Leung, Ph.D. Student, Creative Writing & Literature
Dylan Howell, Ph.D. Student, Cinema & Media Studies
Robert Chlala, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology
Sean Angst, Ph.D. Student, Public Policy & Management
May Lin, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology
Ramin Ghoddousi, Ph.D. Student, Neuroscience
Vishnu Sridharan, Ph.D. Student, Philosophy
Rachel Elizabeth Moran, Ph.D. Candidate, Communication
Mariana Uchoa, Ph.D. Candidate, Neuroscience
Kirsten Lynch, Ph.D. Candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program
Tom DePaola, Ph.D. Student, Urban Education Policy

In Landmark Vote, USC Graduate Student Government Moves to Officially Support Unionization

On behalf of USC Forward’s Graduate Student Organizing Committee, we thank the Graduate Student Government (GSG) for voting overwhelmingly in support of graduate student unionization on USC’s campus on Monday, March 26th.
The resolution is a sign of the groundswell of support from graduate and professional students for exercising our rights as workers to unionize and improve conditions in our university as well as in our communities.  The GSG vote could not come at a more important time. Across the country, workers are having their rights undercutfrom teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma to custodial staff on our own campuswhile graduate workers face more and more precarious conditions.
We came to GSG because we know they can be key partners in our shared work to improve higher education. At the same time, we know unions offer important, unique legal protections and mechanisms to hold our administrators accountable to the promises they make around issues like working conditions, international and undocumented students’ rights, sexual harassment, or racial diversity.
To build support for this resolution, we had the opportunity to speak to dozens of graduate student organizations throughout both USC campuses. Dialogue has been key to our months and months of organizing work thus far, and this effort was no different. We listened to many shared concerns that are central to our organizing, and we had the chance to talk about how we can organize together to improve higher educationno matter if you are a student worker or not. Monday showed us we are being heard, loud and clear, and that our colleagues are ready to stand together.
Yesterday was bigalthough we recognize that we have much work ahead  to make concrete improvements in life at USC and in Los Angeles. Today, we’re moving forward knowing that USC’s graduate and professional studentsin solidarity with workers around the USare ready to fight for real change, together.

Daily Trojan: Graduate Student Government to Pass Motion Supporting Graduate Student Union

The Daily Trojan reporting today on the landmark vote by USC’s Graduate Student Government officially supporting graduate student unionization:
“USC Graduate Student Government voted to pass a resolution on Monday to support graduate students’ unionization efforts through USC Forward, a group of students, faculty, alumni and community organizers seeking to better working conditions, wages and educational accessibility at USC.
The resolution was passed with an 84.4 percent approval from GSG Senate and will be presented to all graduate students, University President C. L. Max Nikias, Provost Michael Quick and the Board of Trustees. GSG will also publicly declare its support for a graduate student union.”
Head over to the Daily Trojan for more.