Racial tensions are surfacing on campuses nationwide, most recently at the University of Missouri. But while Mizzou students break out in protests against racial discrimination and the lack of diversity on the school's campus, students at the University of Southern California have taken a different approach.
After weeks of delay, USC's Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution aimed at ensuring diversity and tolerance on campus. The resolution, written in response to diversity concerns after USG President Rini Sampath was called a racial epithet on the Row, was first put before the Senate on Oct. 27, but USG decided to postpone the vote.
USG President Rini Sampath authored the resolution and was supported by dozens of campus student organizations such as the Black Alumni Association and the Latino Alumni Association.
While the school's mission statement says to "welcome outstanding men women of every race, creed and background," students say USG took this step because the university has not adequately tackled campus discrimination.
The resolution states that the "university has failed to produce action plans to address issues of bias and discrimination."
USC junior Cynthia Blondeel says that the resolution is a step forward for the university.
"It's definitely a milestone because it makes a statement that if all the governing bodies are backing behind this resolution then obviously this means it means a lot to our students."
The resolution is an eight-page document that describes several strategies to help improve diversity issues on campus. The overarching ideal of "increasing transparency" among the student body is present throughout the resolution, but the document also discusses mandatory online training for professors and staff as well as one mandatory semester of diversity training for students. Though a diversity class is already a requirement for students, the goal is to improve the existing classes with more contemporary practices.
Without raising student tuitions, more money will be distributed towards bettering campus diversity. In the document, the authors require money to go toward the construction of a multicultural center in the new University Village, which is slated to open in 2017.
President of the Asian Greek Council, Veronica Park, says she's excited about the idea of a multicultural center, but has some concerns.
"I love that we're putting more funding to culture centers, and the idea of creating this multicultural space, but I am just concerned that we keep creating these spaces that not everyone will take advantage of, or they won't go to the center if it doesn't pertain to them."
The resolution also calls for hiring faculty dedicated to ensuring non-discrimination. The main goal is to have the Vice President of Diversity and the Academic Deans hire a Dean of Diversity "who would have involvement and influence in the hiring and promotion of faculty and staff, and the recruitment." Diversity Deans would be placed in every department to help grow diversity in all areas on campus.
Anna Laura Arredondo is a student in USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. She believes the engineering department alone could use a lot more diversity.
"In the lab where I work, it's usually just Chinese – mostly Asian verses African Americans and Latinos."
The hope is address discrimination issues on campus and make USC more inclusive. Meanwhile, students' protesting unequal treatment and racial taunting at the University of Missouri forced the president to step down on Tuesday. Park says that the news in Missouri was shocking, but she is optimistic about USC's measures to address the problem.
"Even though we are one school, a lot of people are listening to what we are doing here and I think that could set a precedent at other schools as well."