Several dozen USC students walked from Engemann Student Health Center to Tommy Trojan on Saturday to call attention to the 27-year troubled reign of former campus gynecologist George Tyndall.
Students chanted "U-S-C transparency" and "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" as they made their way to the center of the campus. One student held a sign: "USC Knew."
"We hold this event for the community to show solidarity to the many women who were abused or harassed and made uncomfortable by not only George Tyndall but also the university that protected him." said Ariel Sobel, who organized the "Justice for Trojans" march with fellow former student Viva Symanski, who has sued USC and Tyndall.
Symanski told the Los Angeles Times that Tyndall touched her inappropriately and asked repeatedly about her sex life during a January 2014 appointment. Sobel called the march a visible and meaningful way to "help out women like Viva who are dealing with immense trauma."
Speakers included Symanski's attorney Gloria Allred; the interim director of USC Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services (RSVP) Elizabeth Reyes; and representatives from student-run Project Consent and Peace Over Violence. They told a crowd of about 40 people what resources are available for survivors of sexual abuse.
Allred said she will add more than 20 women to the lawsuit she filed against Tyndall and USC early next week.
USC and Tyndall face 11 lawsuits, and lawyers called the scope of Tyndall's alleged abuse unprecedented.
Allred told the crowd that women who believe they were sexually assaulted need to realize it is not their fault.
"Dr. Tyndall is the one who took the advantage of his position, power and trust," Allred said. "There is nothing to be ashamed of. If you wish to be known as Jane Doe rather than by your name in the lawsuit, you have the right under the California law. The public doesn't have to know your name."
In an interview, Allred said it's up to USC how long the legal fight will last.
"They litigate this lawsuit and fight it, or they can try to resolve it at some point," Allred said. "But we will fight it as long as it's necessary to fight to get to the truth and to obtain justice for our clients.
Reyes said RSVP offers group counseling for sexual assault survivors. Reyes said students can report concerns on the student's health center website.
"For my sisters who have not yet come forward, there is something I wish to say at this time," Symanski said."Visibility has not been easy. Choosing to speak here today was not easy. But I draw strength from courageous women who came before. We are at a breaking point. Things have to change, USC must change."
In an interview after the rally, Sobel said the university needs to take more "constructive" steps to improve health center oversight and university administration to avoid a repeat of this breach of trust.
"We need to make sure that women who come to the health center are properly informed what is a proper gynecological exam and what is an abuse," Sobel said.
Sobel added that USC needs to provide more resources to help survivors and create more organizations like RSVP to address the needs of more than 400 women who have accused Tyndall of sexual misconduct.
Sobel said the university should be transparent about the investigation and share its findings with the community.
"Students are your reputation," Sobel said. "Convenience is never as important as courage. It's a long-term issue that we are going to deal with, not immediately."
Symanski said she believes USC can restore its reputation if the university puts students first.
"Without students, there is no USC. We are the promise of tomorrow. We are the future leaders of USC," Symanski said. "It will take a lot of work, and it will not be easy. But some days, if we work together, student and faculty side-by-side, the Trojan community will heal. Not only will USC's reputation be restored, it will be celebrated."
You can watch our Facebook Live coverage of this rally here.
Staff reporter Lauren Floyd contributed to this report.
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