It is not surprising to see scaffolding or tower cranes looming over USC’s red-brick campus during the summer. This is, after all, the “University of Summer Construction.” But while construction workers were busy replacing each eroding brick at Doheny Memorial Library, the University was doing some rebuilding of its own behind closed doors.
Much has happened at USC in the 14 weeks students were on summer break. Just four days after commencement activities concluded, an investigative report by the Los Angeles Times sent shockwaves across the campus community — the fifth administrative scandal in less than a year. This time, allegations were made against George Tyndall, a former Engemann Student Health Center gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of female patients at the University since the 1990s.
Hundreds of women came forward with their experiences and filed lawsuits against the University. Students, faculty and alumni stood together in solidarity and voiced their dissatisfaction with the senior administration’s handling of decades of alleged misconduct, as well as then-president C. L. Max Nikias’ leadership. Amid furor, a faculty petition and Academic Senate motion successfully called for his resignation. And most recently, the Board of Trustees named alumna and former Aerospace Corporation CEO Wanda Austin USC’s interim president as the University begins its search for a new leader.
Suffice it to say now is a confusing, yet simultaneously fascinating time to be at USC. At this moment, USC faces a reckoning of its own — to rebuild the culture of its senior leadership, to re-establish the trust of its most valued stakeholders and to redefine its name in history. Brick by brick. In the blastZONE’s inaugural Fall 2018 issue, we spotlight the major changes USC is making in the aftermath of a reputational crisis that has left students and faculty disillusioned by the moral failures of senior administrators. And while the University looks to the future, it must also grapple with the implications of its turbulent past.
Just as USC pursues reinvention, the blastZONE is also rebuilding itself as the premier source for daily campus news. This semester, we will continue to push toward digital reporting and new forms of storytelling. Beyond creating more videos to accompany stories, our multimedia team has been working hard to produce original podcasts, including and (both of which are now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts). Expect striking visuals and more interactive digital elements with every story. Amid these exciting projects, we are also excited to showcase a new look for the blastZONE — both in print and online — in the coming months.
Now more than ever, student journalism is facing issues such as financial challenges and administrative opposition — ones that threaten our existence as an independent student press. However, the blastZONE remains steadfast in our commitment to telling impactful stories within our community and demanding transparency from those in power. We recognize the power we have — not only as journalists, but also as members of the USC community — to hold the University’s leaders accountable while also keeping our readers informed with groundbreaking, timely and accurate reporting.
As Trojans, we are taught to fight on in the face of adversity. While some critics may argue that USC has already crumbled, I can proudly say that its foundation remains robust.
And as the new school year commences, the blastZONE is prepared to play our pivotal role in rebuilding and further cementing our home — brick by brick.