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USC Security Measures A Necessary Evil

Danny Galvin |
March 25, 2013 | 11:05 p.m. PDT


If postcards were still relevant (or even existed; I’m not sure), USC’s postcard would proudly feature a shot of Doheny Library with its beautiful fountain spouting a stream of crystalline water.

Even as the University Park neighborhood continues to improve, it remains dangerous.
Even as the University Park neighborhood continues to improve, it remains dangerous.

Anyone who goes to USC knows that this spot is iconic, but what many probably do not know is the fountain’s actual meaning. The Youth Triumphant (or The Four Cornerstones of American Democracy) fountain was dedicated in November 1935 and, as the name suggests, its four kneeling figures represent what the University viewed as the foundations of democracy: home, school, church and community. Recently though, USC seems to have strayed from one of these ideals: community. What is worse, however, is that the recent actions taken to make the USC community more exclusive constitute a necessary evil.

The increasing exclusivity is imperative as USC continues to move into the upper echelons of private universities. USC’s acceptance rates are falling as the number of applicants rises. Last year, 46,104 students competed for 9,187 acceptance letters, resulting in an average incoming GPA of 3.7. I hardly hear anyone complaining about or raising as an issue USC’s growing academic exclusivity. In fact, I believe most if not all students would agree that the growing prestige of USC is a trend that they would like to see continue and that, in order for it to continue, more and more students will have to be rejected. More and more students will be told they are not a part of our community.

The exclusion that I often do hear complaints about is the new security system implemented, both in the dorms and at the campus gates. Most students view the measures like finger-print scanning and card swiping in dorms as an overprotective and bothersome overreaction by USC. The student reaction to the policy of closing campus at night has been much stronger. Some view the gates as eroding USC’s relationship with its surrounding community, negating the open-door culture that USC previously promoted. I say that it had to be done.

Even as the University Park neighborhood continues to improve, it remains dangerous. According to an L.A. Times website, it typically ranks around 60th in violent crime and 15th in property crime out of 209 neighborhoods in the metropolitan area. This information is enough to scare away at least a few—if not more—potential students. Events like the murder of two graduate students last year and the Halloween shooting on campus only add weight to the idea that USC is located in an incredibly dangerous area. Faced with this, USC’s hand was basically forced: improve security or let new students be scared away. For the sake of its own rankings, USC had to bolster security—even if it meant alienating parts of the community.

This is not to say that USC has given up on aiding the community. To the contrary, USC remains the largest private employer in Los Angeles and contributes nearly $5 billion annually to the local economy. Additionally, USC actively seeks out opportunities to improve the surrounding area such as by revitalizing the University Village.

The fact of the matter, however, is that USC is a prime target for crime because of the reputation of its student body. Undoubtedly, potential criminals view USC as a land rich in MacBooks, iPhones, televisions, bicycles and fat wallets, and the open-door policy made it too easy to capitalize on this conception. To continue to attract students, USC needed to make changes


Reach Contributor Danny Galvin here.



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