Alumni Demand USC Hold Administration Accountable for Supporting Sexual Predators

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May 17, 2018

TO: Board of Trustees, University of Southern California
CC: USC President C.L. Max Nikias
       USC Provost Michael Quick
       USC Graduate Student Government
       USC Undergraduate Student Government
FROM: Concerned USC Alumni
RE: Abuse of Power and Sexual Assault and Misconduct

We, the Alumni at the University of Southern California, condemn the lack of accountability and inaction from the USC administration. We stand unequivocally with the students and staff who have reported the abuse they experienced under gynecologist George Tyndall during his tenure at the Engemann Student Health Center. On May 15, 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that Tyndall provided services to students for years after numerous reports of inappropriate behavior. The University did not inform his patients or report him, and told the L.A. Times that they were “not legally obligated” to do so. If not for the L.A. Times investigation, Tyndall’s patients and the broader Trojan Community would not have known about Tyndall’s 30 years of sexual misconduct, and his quiet resignation that included a financial payout. 

This incident did not occur in isolation. In the past two years, there have been multiple reports of delayed action by USC administration following credible accusations of sexual misconduct from men employed by USC. Namely, a dean at the Keck School of Medicine [1], a university Vice President of Development, and a professor at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. In each of these cases, USC only admitted wrongdoing once it became evident the story would go public. We do not know how many more cases of abuse have yet to be exposed, but it is clear that the university is unwilling to confront the toxic environment for women they have cultivated over years of neglected accountability.

USC has a crisis of moral leadership -- there is a trend of USC administration not holding abusers accountable, instead rewarding them with financial payouts; not treating victims with support, instead ignoring complaints; not respecting the public’s right to know of dangers in the community, instead concealing vital public health information to preserve the institution’s reputation. Students are harmed and victimized by the very hands who ought to ensure their safety. This is a sign of demonstrable negligence from the administration, and as such, we demand the Board of Trustees do the following:

  • Put President C.L. Max Nikias on leave, as it is under his leadership that several published reports of sexual misconduct were handled inadequately.
  • Review existing protocols for responding to sexual harassment and assault on campus to ensure that perpetrators are appropriately held accountable, victims are supported, and the community is made aware of misconduct in an appropriate and timely manner.
  • Offer services and financial support to those who report abuse from Tyndall (85 victims reported abuse as of Provost Quick’s Memo on May 16, 2018).
  • Issue an apology to the community and not simply a letter of admission.

As USC Alumni, we do not want USC to be branded as a community that harms its own and condones sexual abuse and misconduct; we ask that USC internally reflects on such abuses of power, as they come in many forms. Tyndall and his abusive colleagues are not the only ones who must be held accountable; they exemplify a cultural problem fostered at the highest levels of the administration that is more concerned with the image of USC than the safety of its students and staff. USC must once and for all change its leadership and its policies to reflect a true desire to put its community first.

In Solidarity,

Concerned USC Alumni

Updated May 23: Verbiage updated to reflect delayed action from USC administration for the aforementioned news of misconduct prior to Tyndall.