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Trojans Can Have a Say in Community

by Katharine A. Diaz

USC students join other community residents in a clean-up project through their local neighborhood council.

Photo/Leslie Evans

USC students, faculty and staff are being asked to participate in the activities of the local council known as the Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council.

Sharon Stewart, director of community outreach for USC Civic and Community Relations, said that anyone who lives, works, owns property, attends school or is a member of any type of congregation or organization within the NANDC area can participate in the council.

Of particular importance, she said, is the upcoming election of council board members scheduled on June 4.

“The councils were created in 1999 by a voter-approved amendment to the Los Angeles City Charter,” Stewart said, “to allow people to have a voice in the affairs of their local communities.”

Neighborhood councils address quality-of-life issues such as property values and improved communications between communities and city government, serving as venues for discussion of key issues.

According to Cassady Hastings, academic coordinator for the Joint Educational Project (JEP), students in Political Science 424: Political Participation and American Diversity are seeing firsthand the benefits and obstacles of community participation in political organizations.

The students’ interaction with the council fosters the course’s goals of learning how different ethnic groups affect or are affected by politics and how political systems can be used to eradicate racism and prejudice.

“Students enjoy participating with a diverse group of people to make changes on a community level,” said Jacey Reid, a JEP program assistant who is taking the course.

Agavni Gasparyan, director of community affairs for the Student Senate, reports that the senate is currently working on a project to have a permanent student representative on the neighborhood council.

“There are also a few students interested in running for election, but they are not affiliated with the Student Senate,” Gasparyan said. “And there are students who are working to get more students to run, as well as to vote during the elections.”

Stewart urges USC students, faculty and staff to make their voices heard in the upcoming NANDC board elections. To learn more about the council and the upcoming elections, a few events are taking place prior to election day.

Block clubs and neighborhood organizations will participate in a Community Jamboree on Saturday, May 14, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Exposition Intergenerational Community Center at 3980 S. Menlo Ave. The event will feature food, music and activities for families.

On Saturday, May 21, from 1 to 3 p.m., a Candidates’ Forum will be held at the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic at 3787 S. Vermont Ave.

The vote will take place Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Exposition Park Intergenerational Community Complex in the Senior Center Ballroom.

For more information on the Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council, call (213) 743-5264.

Trojans Can Have a Say in Community

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