USC student govt. simultaneously demands tuition freeze and $20M increase in diversity spending

The University of Southern California’s (USC) administration is promising to dish out millions of dollars in scholarship funds for Syrian and Mexican immigrants as part of a campus wide diversity initiative put forth by the school’s student government.

USC’s student senate passed a diversity resolution last November, calling on the university to invest $100 million in mandatory diversity classes while establishing new administrative positions, including a Title IX investigator; a vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion; a vice dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and an outside vendor to “conduct a campus climate diversity, equity, and inclusion survey annually.”

The resolution, which passed with a vote of 11-1, also demanded that the university “establish an endowed fund and allow for donations to be specifically directed towards this fund of $100 million for scholarships” for students and faculty “from underrepresented backgrounds.”

The administration has now responded with a six-page reply detailing its plans for the 2016 academic year, communicated in a memo sent to the entire USC community Tuesday by Provost Michael Quick, who stated that he and his peers are “heartened” by the “tireless work and contributions” of the student government.

“I think it is likely that no university in the country has achieved so much in such a short period of time. I apologize in advance for the length of this memo, but I want our community to realize how much we have collectively accomplished,” Quick wrote in the memo obtained by Campus Reform.

Among the achievements of his university will be the establishment of three separate diversity committees—the “Provost Diversity Task Force,” a “Diversity Council,” and the “DPS Community Advisory Board,” which will advise campus public safety officers on matters of “campus safety and profiling issues.”

“The Community Advisory Board will advise and assist DPS in addressing issues such as community quality of life, university community involvement, and culturally competent officer training,” Quick’s description of the new committee states.

In addition, Quick has appointed “school diversity liaisons” for each academic department at USC. The new liaisons will work with the provost to “develop, lead, and manage an equity and inclusion plan for their respective schools” and “develop five-year plans to enhance diversity.” It is unclear if the new positions will be filled by new hires or by existing faculty members, but the added responsibilities could warrant monetary compensation.

While he was at it, Quick noted that the university has appointed a “Dual Career Consultant” to “provide direct and customized assistance to prospective faculty and their spouses or partners.” USC, Quick said, also established a “competitive pool of funds” to financially support “dual career hires.” This, he hopes, will “strengthen efforts to diversify the USC faculty.”

Quick and his administration have also elected to establish two significant scholarship funds—one for immigrants from Mexico, and another for Syrian refugees.

“In response to a [Graduate Student Government] resolution passed January 2016,” Quick wrote, USC will “commit to providing scholarships each academic year for six Syrians who meet the standards for admission to the university.”

[RELATED: USC student gov rejects Syrian refugee resolution, citing political difficulties]

The Daily Trojan, USC’ school newspaper, confirmed that the funds will in fact be allotted to refugees migrating to America from Syria.

A separate scholarship fund will be reserved exclusively for post-doctoral students from Mexico. According to Quick’s memo, candidates will be eligible for a $60,000 annual stipend as well as an $8,000 benefits package, totalling $68,000 in possible scholarship funds.

Quick also stresses that the student senate is demanding an additional $20 million in diversity funding—a 25 percent increase—writing, “As I mentioned in the fall 2015 memo, the university annually commits more than $80 million of its resources to supporting diversity efforts at USC and in the community.”

Meanwhile, USC students are complaining about annual hikes in tuition and the same student senate that just called for an increase in funding for diversity initiatives recently passed a resolution demanding a freeze in tuition, which was ultimately ignored by administrators.

“There are ‘current expenses’ but we don’t know what those current expenses are,” Alec White, the senator who sponsored the resolution, said. “And then ‘other salaries’ but we don’t what these salaries are for, who’s getting them. This is over half of the money, too.”

One student even criticized the administration for not listening to the student government by ignoring its resolution.

“I think it’s outrageous that the university isn’t listening to the student voice,” student Holly Huber told The Trojan . “Their first priority should be the students; obviously USG had a huge movement to pass a resolution to stop the tuition hike, and [the administration] just did not listen.I don’t understand what their priority is, if not the student voice.”

One student senator, however, thinks the two separate resolutions demonstrate a clear contradiction in the student government’s demands.

“The school raises tuition every year because they can't afford things, so I don't know how they're going to afford to take in refugees,” student senator Jacob Ellenhorn, the only senator who voted against the diversity resolution, told Campus Reform, adding that he doesn't think USC "needs any of these administrators," either.

“We do not have a diversity problem. Our campus is amongst the most diverse in the nation," he asserted. "Adding all these positions just makes an already bloated bureaucracy even bigger, [and] these costs get passed on to the students. USC has one of the highest tuitions in the country, and when people ask why that is, this partly the reason.”

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