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USC Forum Revives Debate On Heightened Campus Security

Rachel Scott |
September 4, 2013 | 12:37 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(DPS Vehicle/Neon Tommy)
(DPS Vehicle/Neon Tommy)
It may be the start of a new school year at the University of Southern California, but the stringent security measures started last year are still under fire. Tonight nearly one hundred students are expected to gather on university grounds to discuss the security policies and protocols that are being enforced by the Department of Public Safety at the Universitya and in the surrounding community

The initial conversation surrounding student safety was spurred by the tragic murders of two USC graduate students and an on campus shooting at a Halloween party last October. Yet, the debate encompassing the university’s security policies has advanced into a progressive discussion that stretches far beyond the surveillance cameras and steel gates, which now surround the university.

After countless meetings and heated discussions, the outcries for heightened security were answered with a promise of increased patrols, dozens of new LAPD officers, nightly checkpoints, new surveillance cameras and additional fencing to ensure the safety of all students.

The new security policies have now been enforced for nearly a year—so why after all this time is the discussion being revived at a town hall forum tonight? The event hopes to evaluate the effects the policies have had on the students, faculty and the surrounding community.

However, while the town hall forum will focus on issues of security and safety, the discussion will not be limited exclusively to those policies, explains Justin Bogda, Executive Director of the Political Student Assembly.

“There are issues that many students have brought up, such as how new measures may affect the ability of students to program events, keep with campus traditions and organization activities”, said Bdoga. The forum, which features student debaters from S.C.A.R, the USC Change Movement, Women’s Student Assembly and a host of other organizations, will filter a conversation that explores the unique and often controversial policies enforced on campus.

Although the academic year has changed, opinions on the beefed up security have not. Students still remain divided on the whether the policies should be in place. For undergraduate student Omar Nasir, the heightened security protocols have made him feel safer around campus.

USC has had some unfortunate events take place in the past and I'm glad that the university is doing its best to keep us out of harm," said Nasir.  

On the other hand, many students believe the drastic change in security measures has produced gentrification of the community. Others believe the added costs to enforce these the new policies have limited the budgets of cultural assemblies.

Nevertheless, some are worried that holding a campus forum will divide students rather than uniting them.

Undergraduate student Kyron Jacques says that while he would stray from debating the same philosophies that are currently in effect repeatedly, he  feels that “the only way that rules and laws can grow is if people actively contribute to them."

Despite the backlash, Bogda says the event is meant to clarify policies and measures while simultaneously addressing the concerns of students. He hopes the forum will provide useful information for students, faculty and campus police.

We hope that students walk away more informed—more informed of problems that students have and are currently facing, but also informed of some of the programs that USC does provide for our security in various areas," said Bodga. 

Reach Saff Reporter Rachel Scott here.

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