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Activism at USC: Further Points

August 27, 2011

Activism Needs All Kinds of People and Skills

Activism is about imagining a world and bringing it into being (the writers of this guide place a high value on true democracy). This involves working to change or wipe away existing institutions while creating our own institutions in their place.

Activism doesn’t just need people who can stand on street corners and ask people to sign petitions. Activism needs everyone because an imagined world that leaves out some people or skills would not be a democratic place. Activism needs people with business skills who can help create better companies; we need engineers and designers who can craft tools and technology that facilitates accessibility and self-determination; we need sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and economists to help us understand ourselves and the possibilities of a more free society; we need journalists who can document our struggles; we need artists who can inspire us to dream fearlessly.

A better world needs these and all other kinds of thinkers and doers.



USC Can’t Punish You for Speaking Out or Protesting Peacefully

In talking to some students, even ones who belong to activist organizations on campus, we’ve realized that there is a fear in being critical of or protesting a USC policy. While it’s true that our janitors, hospital workers, and cafeteria workers face possible suspension or termination for such actions, and that professors on their 6-year positions leading to whether or not they receive tenure can face serious and informal repercussions, students themselves are extremely well-protected from such retribution.

Especially if you are acting within or alongside student groups, any USC-originated punishments for acting or speaking out peacefully would, and has before, provoked strong student, faculty, and public outcry and that’s something that the USC administration cannot afford.

If you have the slightest hesitation about this or want clarification or reassurance, a great person to contact is Heather Larabee ( 213-740-5693), assistant dean of students and director of Campus Activities, who will assure you with the full authority of the Division of Student Affairs how there is nothing to worry about.



Don’t Take Our Word for It

The arguments made in this guide about how USC operates are just that: arguments. We hope you consider them alongside whatever other arguments and narratives you hear about USC. Moreover, we encourage you to go to the primary sources—many of which are directly quoted and cited in this guide—regarding USC policy to interpret their meanings and implications for yourself. If anything in this guide made you think, made you angry, made you shake your head, or even made you want to dispute the claims you’ve read, email us at with your thoughts, and we’d be more than happy to have a conversation with you.


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