October 31, 2023
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,
Over the past three weeks, we’ve been in conversation with many faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents who have been personally and profoundly impacted by the violence in Israel and Gaza.
Yesterday, the federal government announced new actions to address antisemitism and Islamophobia on college campuses. The White House, the Department of Education (DOE), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be issuing formal guidelines. Here is what we know so far:
- The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will be updating its discrimination complaint form to include language stating that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits antisemitism and Islamophobia and will expedite investigations of these complaints. DOE is also planning to hold technical assistance webinars to provide students with information on how to file an OCR complaint.
- The DOJ and DHS are dedicating 125 protective security advisers and 100 cybersecurity advisers to proactively work with schools and universities to address their needs for cyber threats and online harassment. The Justice Department’s Community Relations Service is also expanding support for Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and other impacted communities on campuses across the nation.
- The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution denouncing antisemitism at institutions of higher education and encourages college and university leaders, as well as administrators, to voice their opposition to antisemitism on campus.
At a time when antisemitism has accelerated across the country and around the world, our Jewish and Israeli communities have expressed concerns about the university’s protest and poster policies, and about the rhetoric they encounter on campus and online. Many are afraid for their safety. Reports of Islamophobia are increasing. Palestinian and Arab communities also have expressed fear about being doxed, threatened, targeted, and harassed online, and about being censored and canceled for their advocacy on campus.
USC publicly and unequivocally denounces antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia. Hate speech is antithetical to our values and any threats of violence are unacceptable. Anyone who incites violence will be referred immediately to law enforcement for investigation and prosecution.
We have a dedicated page that outlines in detail USC’s policies on campus safety, including specific rules, procedures, support resources, and our values. We update this frequently and urge you to use it and refer others to it as needed.
During this time of immense pain and intense polarization, it is more important than ever for us to model what civil disagreement and respectful debate looks like on campuses, in our classrooms, and online. Indeed, our university community can and should be a sanctuary for critical thinking and civic engagement so that we can all be part of the solution to the world’s most challenging problems. And so, we ask all members of our community to continue to see the humanity in each other, to recognize and respect each other’s value and dignity, and to treat each other as cherished members of a global Trojan Family.
Carol L. Folt
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs