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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Do Students Think Forums Help Combat Racism On Campus?

USG hosted an open forum for students to talk about racism on campus.  Will this change campus culture?

The Undergraduate Student Government hosted a forum for students and faculty to discuss racism on USC's campus this week. Students filled much of the campus center ballroom to share stories of discrimination and bias they've experienced in campus housing, in classrooms, and in social settings on and around campus. 

This forum was held in reaction to a widely publicized incident of racial discrimination, much like the one in May 2013 after LAPD shut down a primarily African American student party. 

Many students feel the use of forums is a positive decision to help students' voices be heard. Yet many agree that it isn't enough and that these events do not often lead to the widespread changes students want made. The students we spoke with also voiced concerns that the perpetrators of racism on campus would not attend a diversity forum. These were both points brought up at the forum later Wednesday evening. 

Emotions ran high at the event, and some students shared very charged testimony of unpleasant experiences of bias and discrimination. Cameras were not allowed during the forum in an effort to keep the space as open as possible. After the forum, students felt the discussion was positive, but many said the administration took up too much time talking about reactionary measures to combat racism. Vice President of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry said he is looking to meet with students as soon as possible to come up with solutions that students want.

Some suggestions made included: more gender neutral housing for on campus residents, mandatory diversity training for incoming students, and more open forums and discussions to increase awareness of racism and discrimination on campus.

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