Numerous activist groups continued to protest on campus today to demand accountability and assistance from USC. Starting Saturday, demonstrators set up 10 tents along Jefferson Boulevard near the university's gates and gathered in front of them, holding signs that read "USC Be A Good Neighbor" and "USC School of Unfair Practices."
The groups, which included the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the LA Tenants Union and USC Forward, represented neighborhood residents, students, faculty and staff.
Javier Sarmiento, a community leader of ACCE, asked that the incoming university President Carol Folt meet with the groups, listen to their requests and discuss solutions.
"We've been doing this for the past two, three years, but they keep ignoring us. They keep us from coming to talk. We need to be together on this. Because otherwise you're creating a displacement and that's not right," Sarmiento said.
The tents were put up in time for the LA Times Festival of Books, which took place on campus over the weekend and brought tens of thousands of people to campus. Demonstration organizers plan to keep the tents up until USC meets their long list of demands, according to Los Angeles Magazine.
Some of the issues to which demonstrators hope to draw attention are the gentrification of the neighborhood as a result of USC's continuing expansion, the university's efforts to prevent professors from unionizing and the need to enroll more students from low-income backgrounds.
Orinio Opinaldo, a member of ACCE who has lived in South Central for nearly 70 years, said he believes the university's actions are destroying the local community.
"I'm seeing everything being destroyed and everything being taken away and communities dying and the goal is to destroy communities," Opinaldo said. "And I'm not going to let all the communities die."
Another community member, Jacqueline, spoke to a crowd of people gathered outside the tents about being evicted from her apartment a year ago, only 10 days after giving birth. Jacqueline was one of over 80 tenants who was evicted from seven buildings along Exposition Boulevard when the new owners of the buildings decided to renovate the units and market them to USC students.
"During the time in which I was evicted, it was a very difficult time," Jacqueline said. "It was very hard, it was very frustrating, it was very traumatic."
Sarmiento said he wants to work with more USC students in achieving the demonstrators demands.
"For the students here and students who are coming to USC, we can do all this together. Come and reach [out] to us and talk to us cause we are all together. What affects you now affects us too," he said.
Sarmiento reiterated his hope to work with the university's leadership to improve the surrounding community.
"Everybody should have a decent education and you have the resources available. Just be open and be a human being. Be a person that touches base with us."
Dakota Gryffin and Alex Song contributed to the reporting of this article.