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Ugly Outtakes from USC History

August 28, 2011

The following are some particularly horrifying facts and incidents about USC’s past, though it is far from a comprehensive list. Although this guide focuses mostly on contemporary ills at USC, we think it’s also worth noting that serious crimes have been committed by the university since its beginning.

Rufus B. von KleidSmid was USC’s president from 1921 – 1946 and USC’s chancellor from 1946 – 1964. According to 1996 USC dean of religious life Rabbi Susan Laemlme, “Depending on who you believe, [von KleidSmid] was somewhere between liking Germans and being a Nazi.” An article on says that “Although there were no formal quotas in place during von KleinSmid’s administration, it is rumored that only one Jewish student per year was admitted to the university’s law and medical schools. In 1946, also during von KleidSmid’s presidency, a cross burning took place on the lawn of a Jewish fraternity house.”



USC-LA Medical Center was the defendant in the lawsuit Madrigal v Quilligan that charged that the 10 women plaintiffs were forcibly sterilized after giving birth. Here is some testimony from two of the plaintiffs in that case:

While I was in advanced labor and under anesthesia with complications in my expected childbirth and in great pain, the doctor told me that I had too many children, that I was poor, and a burden to the government and I should sign a paper not to have more children” – Jovita Rivera.

[A] doctor said that if I did not consent to the tubal ligation that the doctor repairing my hernia would use an inferior type of stitching material which would break the next time I became pregnant, but that if I consented to the tubal ligation that the stitches would hold as proper string would be used. No one ever explained what a tubal ligation operation was, I thought it was reversible” – Helena Orozco.



A 1990 article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Anti-Apartheid Students Sue USC, L.A. Over Alleged Beating by Police” (2) recounts that:

The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the security guards led students to a campus alleyway and then attacked them after they tried to present the university Board of Trustees with a letter demanding that the school divest its holdings in South African companies. The incident was videotaped by a local television station and a USC film student.”

The videotape shows campus security guards jabbing and shoving several students with night sticks as the activists clamber to get back inside Bovard Auditorium. LAPD officers are shown watching the fray but not participating.”


Sources Cited




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