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Students Protest Against USC's Ties To Jansport, University Calls Their Parents

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The University of Southern California took the unusual step of calling the parents of student protesters who had staged a sit-in outside the university president's office.

The group of students were part of the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, or SCALE, an organization on campus advocating to ensure factory workers are treated fairly. In the April 15 protest outside the USC president's office, the students were calling for the university to cut ties with backpack company Jansport due to factory conditions for employees in Bangladesh.

"There was no attempt to have any constructive dialogue about what's a pressing human rights issue," Lorelei Christie, a USC freshman, said during a HuffPost Live segment. "Instead [USC Vice Provost of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry] immediately told us he was going to start calling our parents, going suspend us, expel us, etcetera, revoke our financial aid, revoke our scholarships."

Carry told The Huffington Post the students would've been fine in their protest, had they been outside the building, but did not address why they called their parents.

"I informed the students protesting inside the Bovard Administration Building of their rights and responsibilities in relation to protesting on campus," Ainsley Carry, vice provost for Student Affairs, told The Huffington Post. "The students were informed that if they chose to continue to disrupt university business with loud protests inside the building or by staying inside the building after the hours of operation that they would be given a letter of interim suspension. The students would then be required to go through the student judicial affairs process and, if found responsible, could face sanctions up to and including suspension."

No students received letters of interim suspension, Carry said.

The university also noted it joined the Worker Rights Consortium, which works to ensure manufacturers of their apparel do not engage in force overtime, child labor, unsafe working environments and other conditions.

When asked how her father responded, Francesca Bessey, a USC junior, told HuffPost Live he was confused.

"I got out of there and had messages saying 'I don't know whats going on, but the university told being told me I was going to be suspended for protesting,'" Bessey said.

On Wednesday afternoon, more than 50 USC students staged multiple sit-ins in various administrative offices to continue pressuring the university to sever ties with Jansport.

Watch the entire conversation with the protesters on HuffPost Live here.

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