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by elisa hernandez The University of Southern California is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, known for outstanding academics, a dominant football program and its extensive network known as the Trojan Family. But due to recent scrutiny from the NCAA and wild acts done by students on campus, after its long reign has the glory of Troy begun to collapse? In the past two years alone, USC’s football program was suspended from attending any bowl games for two full seasons with a high reduction in their scholarships. Most recently the NCAA rejected USC’s appeal to reduce the sentence to only one season. So, unfortunately the Trojans will not be able to participate in post-season play of the newly established Pac12. USC has lost top recruits due to sanctions, and unfortunately the dedicated players here have had to suffer from the mistakes of past players. But even so, the athletic program continues to rebuild its image through players such as football quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods. “It’s still USC football … regardless of rules, we still dominate. We’re the NFL team of L.A.,” says Robert Stephens, a sophomore at USC. USC’s basketball program also faced scrutiny as they selfsanctioned themselves during the 2009-2010 season. They
COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES What They Should Really Be About by denise guerra So you’re officially becoming an alumnus. I am both super excited and regrettably sorry for you. For me graduating was a polarizing transition: Stomach pains from drunken late-night debauchery were replaced with stomach pains from late-night work ulcers. Many of my past columns involved the trials and triumphs I have gone through since leaving UCLA, but let me tell you, I am extremely far from having the life experience necessary to give any type of commencement speech myself. I remember during my commencement ceremony, there was this big controversy over having actor James Franco as commencement speaker. People were outraged by the idea that someone who had graduated a year before could have the life experience to relate to the graduating class a year later. Plus, he was already wildly successful while the rest of us were and still are finding our way. Eventually, about a week or two before, Franco dropped out (for reasons unclear) and was replaced by a member of the band Linkin Park. The speaker talked about his Kappa Phi Beta commencement ceremony where each person stands in front of a microphone and tells everyone what he plans
Is Troy collapsing?
had to vacate their wins from the 2007-2008 regular season, after violating NCAA rules regarding former Trojan O.J. Mayo. Apart from athletics, this past semester two students were caught having sex on top of Waite Phillips Hall; the male was identified as a member of USC’s Kappa Sigma fraternity. Photos were taken of the couple in various sexual positions and later leaked to the media. “I was going through airport security, and was wearing my USC jacket. One of the security guards said ‘Oh, USC ... that’s the school with those people having sex on the roof right?’” says Danny Ramirez, a junior at USC. “I laughed, but was surprised that of all the things USC is known for, people having sex on a roof was what came to mind.” Kappa Sigma had been in the news once before when an e-mail sent to its members went viral. The message referred to women as “targets” and asked members to spread the names of the women they have had sex with. The e-mail provided code names, categories by race and a rating system so members could create their lists. Investigations were conducted and found that the e-mail had not come directly from the fraternity, but by then the damage had been done. “I think, from an administrative point of view, these acts are considered extremely harmful, because it might affect who will fund or donate a vast amount of money to the school,” says Tatiana Hernandez, who is looking to apply to USC for grad school, “but then again, from a young adult’s perspective, a lot of people brush events like that off because they find college to be experimental.” Although USC has taken some hits to its reputation, if anything it has only strengthened the student body. Since the NCAA sanctioned the football team, the support from the student section has only increased, and thousands continue
to fill the seats of the L.A. Coliseum. The acts on campus have actually initiated students to take action by conducting a walkout on campus to protest sexual violence. They hosted seminars about how silence is not consent and how students must respect the female body. USC will always have its share of detractors; since it is held so high on a pedestal, every move will be under a microscope. But as a Trojan Family, under great adversary students have shown that the criticism will only create a stronger bond among current and former students. Troy continues to stand tall; as long as the USC student body acknowledges its mistakes and does what it can to not let unsavory acts go unpunished, this empire will cease to fall. All Trojans can do is continue to look forward to the new semester, season and year. They must learn from their past mistakes and turn weakness into strength. By doing this they will rise from the criticism and learn the true meaning behind FIGHTING ON!
Campus Circle > Blogs > D-Day to do after graduation. It was a horrible experience for him because he didn’t know what he was going to do, and I only remembered this part of his speech because I felt the same way when I had to do it. I really do wish I had remembered his speech as a guiding light to my future endeavors, but now all I have are fond fading memories. But really, I don’t think anyone could recall what their commencement speaker said when they were graduating. Luckily for us, we have many famous speeches saved online, either through YouTube or through Ted Talks. Because I don’t really remember my own commencement speaker, I like to believe my watching J.K. Rowling speak about the importance of failure during Harvard’s 2008 commencement is like her actually speaking at my graduation. Plus it’s accessible anytime. You can never get enough inspiration, especially when you feel that life after graduation is like a stormy raincloud. For the Harry Potter author, it wasn’t the typical “life was hard at first but then it gets better” shpeel. She addressed the idea of what failing miserable really meant in the grand scheme of things: “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.” Inevitably failure happens, no one likes it, but some like Ms. Rowling had the determination and luck to get out of it. It brings optimism to the whole idea of “failing.” However, the words of wisdom I have gravitated towards
Linda D. Epstein/MCT
Campus Circle > Blogs > Trojan SideLines
J.K. Rowling spoke of failure at a Harvard commencement. for being truly real were found in op-ed columnist David Brooks’ New York Times piece “It’s Not about You.” It’s like the anti-commencement speech, no frou frou of “follow your dreams” or “be whoever you want to be.” I agree with him that while nice words to say are completely misleading. “College grads are often sent out into the world amid rapturous talk of limitless possibilities. But this talk is of no help to the central business of adulthood, finding serious things to tie yourself down to. The successful young adult is beginning to make sacred commitments – to a spouse, a community and calling – yet mostly hears about freedom and autonomy. Today’s graduates are also told to find their passion and then pursue their dreams. The implication is that they should find themselves first and then go off and live their quest. But, of course, very few people at age 22 or 24 can take an inward journey and come out having discovered a developed self.” When graduating, “follow your dreams” makes sense, but for the rest of us who have already experienced graduating, Brooks’ words ring the most true.
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