Witnessing the devastation of its neighbors, the University responded with
willing hands, bright minds and open hearts.
Before the ashes were even cool after last year’s riots, members of the USC
community had rolled up their sleeves to repair the damage and to lay the
foundation for a better future.
Faculty and staff responded to the civil disturbance by revising courses and
developing new programs in their academic units to deal with inner-city issues
and the social unrest, sponsoring panel discussions and conducting new research
on Los Angeles.
These efforts include a new community service class that gives students credit
for volunteering in social service agencies, a documentary on the riots produced
by the School of Cinema-Television and new and revised courses in architecture,
business, sociology, urban and regional planning and other academic units that
address the city’s urban ills. Many new programs were launched in response to the
But with about 150 community-oriented programs in place before the riots, much of
the University’s work has been aimed at intensifying and coordinating projects
already underway, said Alvin S. Rudisill, University chaplain and vice president
for Civic and Community Relations.
“We’re trying to bring greater coherence to what’s already been going on so that
we get more bang for the buck, so to speak,” Rudisill said.
Some of the University wide efforts instigated after the riots to address problems
in the community include:
*The Administrative Outreach Group — an action group of faculty and staff
chaired by Jane Pisano, dean of the School of Public Administration —
established by President Steven B. Sample in December to implement his five
neighborhood initiatives: 1. to provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs who
want to start or enlarge a business in the neighborhood, 2. provide
home-ownership opportunities for longtime University staff, 3. offer preferential
hiring at USC for longtime neighborhood residents, 4. work closely with children
and their families in the neighborhood, helping them succeed and receive a
college education, and 5. help the community make the neighborhood around USC
*The Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies, established by the
provost’s office last summer, which fosters research, courses and outreach
programs related to diversity issues in both local and transnational contexts.
*The L.A. Year, organized by the Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies
and the School of Public Administration, to highlight classes, seminars, panel
discussions and other events focusing on Los Angeles during the 1993-94 academic
From the day of his inauguration, Sample cited working with the neighborhood as
one of his major goals.
“This has been on his mind since he arrived,” said Pisano, “but I think it’s fair
to say that the riots prompted even further attention on his part, and subsequent
to April 29, 1992, he evolved this series of five initiatives.”
The 11-member Administrative Outreach Group has been working since January,
Pisano said, to “learn what the University is already doing with regard to these
objectives, to understand what’s already happening in the neighborhoods, to
identify neighborhood organizations and individuals with whom we might [form
partnerships] and to develop an implementation plan.” The group expects to
present the implementation plan this spring (CAROL: SURELY THE SPRING IS OVER
“The president established the AOG to help ensure that the University’s walk
would match his talk,” Pisano added.
Soon after the riots, the University launched the Center for Multiethnic and
Transnational Studies. Located in Kerckhoff Hall, the center was funded with the
help of the Henry R. Luce Foundation, which endowed a professorship of
multiethnic and transnational studies. The post is filled by Stephen Toulmin, who
joined the faculty this spring.
The center will kick off its first major program — the L.A. Year — next fall.
Already, 35 courses have been identified for next fall. Spanning the University,
what the courses have in common is a focus on some aspect of Los Angeles. In
addition, the center has planned panel discussions, special speakers and events
that highlight Los Angeles.
“It’s really a University wide programmatic attempt to focus on Los Angeles, to
really cut into analysis of what makes this a special city, and give students a
better opportunity to study Los Angeles,” said Eric Schockman, the center’s
associate director and adjunct professor of political science.
The center, working with faculty who specialize in urban and ethnic politics,
also sponsored a conference in March on “New Directions for the Korean-American
Community,” which drew more than 250 members of the Korean-American community,
local businesses, academia, religious groups and grassroots organizations.
The participants recommended a range of policy proposals to improve relationships
between the Korean-American community and its neighbors.
In a study presented at the conference, Schockman reported that almost 40 percent
of Korean-Americans are thinking of leaving Los Angeles. But contrary to
widespread media attention to disputes between the Korean-American and
African-American communities, Schockman found that “there is not systemic hatred
between these two communities. The number of cases we found are actually going
down, not going up.”
Angela Oh, a prominent Korean-American attorney, speaking at another panel
discussion in April, also blamed the media for sensationalizing the strife
between Korean- Americans and African-Americans in Los Angeles, while ignoring
successful youth programs and joint ventures. She held the media accountable for
the fact that Korean-American shopkeepers are arming themselves, spurred by
almost daily reports of shootings, beatings and other violent crimes in
connection with small businesses.
To help businesses directly, the School of Business Administration and the
Entrepreneur Program has expanded its Community Outreach Program and set up a
Business Assistance Center in University Village. The center evolved from post-
riot efforts by business students and alumni to help owners of small businesses
apply for disaster loans.
For a $25 fee, business owners can receive a “needs assessment” from MBA students
serving as counselors, said Debbie Esparza, director of the community outreach
program. The needs assessment counseling has been going on since January and was
moved off campus to bring the program closer to the community.
“Businesses are still struggling with the issues they were struggling with before
the rebellion, such as getting insurance, management skills and financing,” she
A year later, the difference is this. In all its difficulties, the community now
has a powerful, creative and deeply committed friend in the University.
[Photo:] After the riot, football graduate assistant Ricky Hunley, athletics
administrative assistant Marian Kicklighter and other USC athletics staff and
students formed a “food brigade” outside the First American Methodist Episcopal