People of a certain age in Southern California might recall a time when that currently world-renowned university south of downtown Los Angeles lurked in the academic shadow cast by UCLA. Unfairly or not, USC was long considered a safe space for the children of wealthy families who wanted to work a little less hard for their degrees than they would have had to in Westwood. When I was in high school, a teacher who graduated from UCLA circulated a mock USC application that had a box for SAT scores marked “optional” and another for body measurements marked “mandatory.”
USC has largely shed that reputation. But a spate of scandals in recent years, including, most recently, the alleged involvement of several university officials in an admissions bribery scheme, has prompted letter writers to repeat old tropes about that university that play on the endless possibilities for mockery afforded by the initials “USC.”
Here are several letters, including some from alumni, that are unsparing in their criticism of USC.
Mariellen Boss of Cathedral City wonders about anyone who attends USC:
It saddened and angered me to read that the rich can so easily buy a college ticket for their maybe undeserving children. The next time someone tells me that their child is in USC, I’ll wonder how that happened.
In my mind, USC has now become the “University of Scammers’ Children.”
Cerritos resident and USC alumnus Wayne Muramatsu looks back at the last several years of scandal:
As an alumnus of USC, I am totally astonished and ashamed of the events that have occurred at the university in the past five years.
First there was the drug-taking medical school dean, then the student health center physician accused of misconduct, and now, there is this admissions scandal.
USC has undoubtedly earned the title, “University of Second Class.”
USC alumna Elyse Caraco Miller suggests a way for USC to repair its reputation:
As a two-time USC graduate, I call upon the university to expel any student who gained admission by fraudulent means, irrespective of whether the student was aware.
As the ultimate beneficiaries of their parents’ alleged fraud, the students themselves must be held accountable as well. Just as a cheating coach can result in a team having to forfeit ill-won games, so should the students who gained admission through fraud have to forfeit their enrollment in the school.
Douglas Murch of Austin, Texas, recalls USC’s reputation from his days as a student:
Since when is it difficult to get into USC (the “University of Spoiled Children”)? In my day, all you needed to do was show up, exhale on a mirror and sign a check.
Monrovia resident Stephen McCarthy is “shocked, shocked”:
Ah, so it’s confirmed: It’s once again the “University of Spoiled Children.” All together now: “Time out for USC — they have to pay the referee.”
As Claude Raines would say, “I’m shocked, shocked.”