THE BLOG

A Trojan Family Divided?

02/11/2015 12:47 am ET | Updated Apr 12, 2015

Perusing USC's Yik Yak, you'd see posts about the failing Wi-Fi, if Miley Cyrus (or insert celebrity name here) is on campus, Greek life's latest, or the hot parties on local streets like Menlo that are all fueling our stereotype of being the University of Spoiled Children, but recently, one post caught my attention:

The death of a loyal employee.

Never did I think I would have to rely on an anonymous app to get news about employees passing in our Trojan family.

Something didn't sit well with me about that. Yik Yak, isn't my favorite app, because it promotes anonymous bullying and even sometimes racist or sexist comments. But this proved that people can use Yik Yak for something more than just gossip.

Currently generating news from our USC campus is our treatment of our employees -- people that work day in and day out to make students' experiences worthwhile. From the janitors to the chefs, shouldn't they have voices? With Andre "Soon" Jones's death, there was no announcement, no public words to his family -- it was the students in the residential hall that worked together to create cards for them because the university failed to update on this.

How is that the workers are treated like they are simply just that -- news not worth covering. But at USC we have something called the Trojan family, where students and faculty are advised to be kind to each other, constantly helping each other out -- creating a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a family. Shouldn't workers be included in this? This shouldn't even be a question. They are just as much our family as anyone else.

However, this isn't the first time campus issues involving workers have been given spotlight.

In a recent video, a worker confronted President Nikias about looking into the workers' wages. We've heard nothing back and workers are back on strike. Currently, workers are paid $11 an hour, a bit over the minimum wage in California. When considering many of the workers' backgrounds, this is not enough to sustain a family.

Walking through campus, I see concerned workers with picket signs, marching instead of working -- why should they have to do this? An established university like USC that charges up to $60,000 for tuition surely should have enough to pay their workers fairly.

If USC claims the Trojan family is real, then we need to step up and face a reality. The silence on Andre Jones's passing and the strikes call the question -- we may not be treating our workers fairly or with respect. President Nikias, please respond. This can easily be changed by working with other board and chair members to create a fiscal plan that changes these conditions, recognizes the dignity of these individuals, their important contribution to our school, and the critical, ethical, and material importance of fair compensation in their lives. The students are aware and willing to fight and speak up for the marginalized voices on campus and the workers are doing their part. All that's missing is the institution. I would hate for my university to go back on its word of creating an environment that promotes fellowship throughout its entire community. USC, we're better than this. Let's work together to solve this issue.