Image credits, from left to right: Kim Tabari; Daily Trojan; and Kim Tabari.

Statement of support for students from USC Equity Research Institute

Bythe ERI Leadership Team


As a research center committed to supporting powerful, intersectional, and intersectoral movements for racial, economic, and environmental justice, the Equity Research Institute sees student voice and campus protest as a key part of making social progress.


In that light, we: 

  • strongly disapprove of the USC administration’s decision to cancel the speech of a properly chosen valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, and continue to call on the administration to allow the valedictorian to speak her truths;
  • strongly disagree with the USC administration’s decision to call the Los Angeles Police Department to arrest students and faculty who were peacefully protesting and call on USC leadership to demilitarize campus, to support free speech and protest, and to work with local authorities to drop any charges against those who were arrested; and
  • strongly urge the USC administration to fully consider student demands for disclosure of USC investments and conduct an analysis of the possibilities for divestment.


While this statement is focused on issues of voice and protest on our campus, we acknowledge that the protests sweeping U.S. universities–including by students, staff, and faculty colleagues at our crosstown institution of higher learning, UCLA–have been prompted by the war in Gaza and the continuing loss of life there. 

In November 2023, we echoed an extraordinary well-crafted call by other colleagues at the Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, acknowledging the pain of multiple communities, stressing the longstanding asymmetry of power in the region, and calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. That mix of sentiments, analysis, and policy is even more relevant today.


— ERI Leadership Team