Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you know that Houston was flooded and partially destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. As of September 6, the death toll was up to 70.
But while everyone sends their money, thoughts and prayers to those affected in Texas, another catastrophe is being largely ignored. Monsoon rains much heavier than usual have hit South Asia so hard they have affected over 41 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The death toll was up to 1,200 by August 30.
It wasn’t long after Hurricane Harvey made landfall that USC Provost Michael Quick sent out a memo to the USC community regarding those affected. He offered his condolences and outlined how to get support if need be.
The monsoon rains in Asia started in June and no one has yet offered such support to Asian students.
As of Fall 2016, 17.6% of the USC student body was Asian. Of those, at least 2,153 international students came from India that could very well be affected by this flooding. Asian students, like those from Houston, are probably also worried about whether or not their families are safe and their homes still standing, and on top of that pressure – they need to keep up with their schoolwork. The fact that the University chose to address victims in Texas and not in Asia goes to show how this campus isn’t placing enough importance on its international community.
In fact, this is not the first time that USC fails to support those from abroad. Back in January, when President Trump issued the executive order banning people from seven Muslim countries to come into the United States, USC’s response was mediocre at best. I spoke to many Muslims affected by the ban and some felt like USC wasn’t doing enough to protect them. Of course, the traditional memo from the Office of the Provost came in, basically stating the exact same thing as the memo for victims of Harvey. USC is sorry this happened, they’re trying to help, and if you need to talk to someone, call Student Counseling.
Meanwhile, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and 14 other universities filed an amicus brief challenging Trump’s Muslim ban. Boston University’s President, Robert A. Brown, penned an op-ed on the Boston Globe, saying the ban “diminishes our nation.” In comparison, President Nikias falls short.
The memos that come from his office might be thoughtful, but words aren’t enough to help the community. We need support. We need action. And above all, we need USC to stop advertising itself as a “global university” that “values our international scholars,” like Provost Quick’s memo stated. His lack of attention towards the South Asian community at USC proves completely the opposite.
I understand President Nikias cannot address all the catastrophes going on in the world that could affect USC students. Just this week, he would’ve spammed our emails with memos for Barbuda, St Thomas, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, and the list goes on! I’m not asking him to do that. He’s not required to make a statement about everything that goes on in the world, because that would be useless and overwhelming.
However, this goes far beyond whether or not the President expresses his concern for the international community; his lack of acknowledgement of Asian students speaks to a larger issue on campus: Trojans don’t care enough about international events. They hardly even know about them. The administration is not going to show support until the student body does. Trojans should value the 24% of international students that share their campus and that contribute to this community.
They should be aware that that student from India that sits next to them in class might’ve lost a family member to the flood, or that that student from Mexico they met at Orientation just lost their home to the earthquake. We should all be aware that our Trojans from the Caribbean woke up last week to find that their homes, and their entire islands, were completely gone. The anticipation of the storm hitting Florida has overshadowed the effect it has already had over the Caribbean. Because once again, in this campus, if it’s not happening on US mainland… it’s just not worth it.
Watching a catastrophe unfold in your home while you’re hundreds of miles away is one of the worst feelings in the world, and Trojans should be there to support each other. The so-called “Trojan Family” should extend beyond the national borders.
USC has always been known for being apolitical, but I don’t think that’s the right term to define this campus anymore. “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
Apathetic. That’s more like it.