On paper, USC is one of the most diverse campuses in the country. Our university boasts the second-largest international student population in America; first-generation college students comprise 13 percent of the current freshman class. Among elite private universities, USC leads the nation in recruiting undergraduates eligible for Pell Grants, the tuition award for high-achieving students from low-income families.
But when we talk about diversity, we must look beyond statistics. What are the cultural forces that shape USC? Do students and faculty from different backgrounds feel equally welcome on our campus?
These questions — and our longing for answers — inspired this project. In the following six profiles, you’ll meet students from various countries, communities and areas of study. Our reporters spent hours shadowing their subjects and learning about what brought them to USC and their experiences since arriving on campus.
These human faces are just one piece of a broader diversity puzzle. Not long ago, USC was a far more homogenous place than it is today. We wanted to identify the people and events that brought about the university’s transformation. So we went back in time and documented recent milestones in our university's “diversity history” — from the formation of the Black Alumni Association in 1976 to the campus climate protests just last year.
We complemented this historical timeline with an update on the Campus Climate Resolution, the list of demands passed by undergraduate student government in response to protests about diversity and inclusion. We researched which demands have been met — and neglected — by the administration.
We hope the stories in this project will encourage you to reflect on how USC has shaped your understanding of diversity and its importance in your life.
— Maral Tavitian, Special Projects Editor