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USC’s LGBT Resource Center director, Reverend Kelby Harrison, wasn’t always involved in the LGBT community.
“I grew up in Wichita, Kan. … Kansas is fairly conservative, and I didn’t come out as gay until I was a teenager,” Harrison said.
However, that changed when Harrison attended Northwestern University for her doctorate degree.
“I left for college [at the University of Missouri-Kansas City] and then went to Northwestern for my Ph.D. program, and that’s where I really got involved with the LGBT community,” Harrison said. “I was openly gay by the time college was over, but it wasn’t until I got to Chicago that I connected with the campus communities and off-campus communities and got involved in activism.”
Harrison founded Northwestern’s first-ever LGBT graduate student organization, the Queer Pride Graduate Student Association, and through that group, also founded the Queertopia conference, where graduate students from across the nation came to share their academic research on LGBT-related issues.
The LGBT community even found its way into Harrison’s education. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a degree in philosophy and ethics, but her doctorate from Northwestern was in ethics, gender and sexuality.
Harrison went on to publish her dissertation for the degree as a book Sexual Deceit: The Ethics of Passing which explores the morals behind passing, or presenting oneself as one thing while one’s identity is something else. The book specifically explores queer individuals who pass as heterosexual.
However, LGBT issues weren’t all that Harrison became passionate about in graduate school. It was there that she also rediscovered a love for faith and spirituality.
“I loved religion as a child … but I broke from religion at about 16, when I started figuring out how misogynistic and homophobic religion could be,” Harrison said. “But in graduate school, I came back to Liberal Christianity … that led me to getting a job as a postdoctoral fellow at the Union Theological Seminary, which is kind of known for being the premier social justice seminary in the country, very much dedicated to black liberation theology [and] LGBT inclusion.”
It was while teaching at the seminary that Harrison became ordained as a reverend, at a similarly LGBT-inclusive church, the Metropolitan Community Church.
After leaving the seminary, Harrison came to Los Angeles. While she initially came to Southern California as a hospital chaplain for the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, she soon found that USC was her true calling.
“I wasn’t in Los Angeles very long before I figured out that USC was the school of choice around here. It very much reminds me of Northwestern, [so] I started looking for employment at USC,” Harrison said. “I kept my eye on the University … and [when] this position came to open, and it was absolutely ideal. It was the combination of both my academic studies, my activism and the institution I wanted to work at. I got lucky.”
Harrison has worked to improve the quality of life for LGBT students and increase their presence on campus. She successfully advocated for the addition of the Lavender Lounge, a safe space for LGBT students to unwind and interact, which more than doubled the LGBT Resource Center’s space on campus. Just two years ago, USC’s LGBT center was found to be the smallest among top academic institutions.
“She was really passionate about getting that student lounge … the moment we had that space officially and no one could take it back, she was so excited,” said Erica Kirk, former lead graduate assistant at the LGBT Resource Center. ”It was finally a place for students to hang out where we weren’t all on top of each other,”
Aside from the Lavender Lounge, Harrison has dedicated her days to making USC more inclusive. She worked with the Title IX office at USC to get an all-gender restroom next to the LGBT Resource Center, created peer support systems for members of the LGBT community and was even recognized nationally for making USC welcoming for international LGBT students.
However, Harrison’s true passion for being the center’s director lies in working with individual students, according to Michael Gorse, the LGBT Resource Center supervisor. He’s been working with Harrison for more than three years, both as a graduate assistant at the center while studying at USC, and as center supervisor now.
“She really enjoys working with students one-on-one … she’s able to develop personal connections with the students she’s working with at the center,” Gorse said. “She’s very good at and willing to listen to people non-judgmentally and connect with them.”
Kirk said that Harrison fosters such strong relationships with students on campus because she goes above and beyond to show them she cares.
“She is infinitely empathetic,” Kirk said. “She still emails me about my job search, and checks in on me. It could have very easily been like, ‘Okay, you don’t work for me anymore, we’re done,’ but she takes the time to check in, and see where I’m at and I’m sure she does that will with all of her staff, and all of the students she comes in contact with, because she cares, a lot.”
Despite all the successes she’s had as the resource center director, Harrison has even bigger goals in mind for the LGBT center.
“In upcoming years, we’re going to … really begin to focus on queer and trans students of color, focusing more on inclusivity efforts for students of color, and working more closely with the other cultural centers on campus,” Harrison said.
Another effort that the center is working on is providing resources for the mental health of LGBT students.
“Last week, we both went to San Jose [to become] instructors so we can train our student staff and colleagues on how to help someone who presents mental health issues or a mental health crisis … Kelby’s been doing a lot of work on expanding our understanding [of mental health], as well as services that are offered for students who are experiencing mental health issues,” Gorse said.
Beyond working at the LGBT Resource Center, Harrison is still able to utilize her background in faith and religion. She works at the Office of Religious Life as the Dean of Spirituality and Sexuality, allowing her to help students work through the intersectionality of their faith and sexual orientation or gender identity, which she knows from firsthand experience can be a difficult path to navigate alone.
“[After] being in the world of religion for a number of years, it’s nice to still have that connection to the world of religion through USC,” Harrison said.
Through her life’s work in spirituality, ethics and queer advocacy, Harrison finds fulfillment in seeing real progress for the LGBT community.
“It’s really satisfying to see institutions get better around LGBT issues … I have watched USC grow; I watched Northwestern grow,” Harrison said. “Right now, there are rainbow flags all along [Trousdale Parkway], which is lovely. We didn’t even have to put pressure on the school to do it. It’s so great to see that positive institutional reaction. I think it’s a modern sign of ethical improvement, when institutions get better.”
Come August, a total of 23 professors will live among students in the eight residential colleges spread throughout campus, including the addition of six for the new USC Village. Each residential faculty member was selected through a competitive application process for a term of four years.
Director for Residential Education Emily Sandoval espouses the benefits of students and professors sharing a common living space, which she said helps bridge the gap between the classroom experience and living experience. Students are allowed to form closer, more personal connections with the faculty, she said.
“They lower that invisible wall, that barrier, that sometimes students see faculty behind,” Sandoval said. “They become more human. They’re people. They’re sharing their space, their families, sometimes pets, welcoming students into their homes.”
These include professors Trisha Tucker in McCarthy Honors College, Carla Della Gatta in West Residential College, Caroline Muglia in Parkside International Residential College and Edwin Hill in Parkside Arts & Humanities Residential College.
Seventeen finalists were invited for a half day of interviews where the screening committee and residential education student leaders learned more about each candidate. The final step was a social assessment, where the applicants were invited to attend one of two social events after work.
Ultimately, the six faculty members were chosen.
“I call it a legacy,” Sandoval said. “Especially with the USC Village being brand new, that doesn’t have any traditions, so we get to set the traditions, and start the traditions and start a history that doesn’t exist.”
The six faculty who will live in the USC Village include Tucker and Pascarella in the McCarthy Honors College, Ruth Chung in USC Village’s Building 6, Neelesh Tiruviluamala in Building 7, Broderick Leaks in Building 8 and Laura Baker in Building 9.
John Pascarella has been involved in residential education for five years, but this upcoming year will be his first time leading programming for the honors college. Previously a high school teacher, Pascarella now teaches graduate students at the Rossier School of Education. He saw residential education as an opportunity to interact more with undergraduates.
“It’s a big commitment to serve the students of our campus,” Pascarella said. “The point is we’re here living amongst the students and we create programming that connects home, profession, and academics, as well as social opportunities. We’re there if they need to talk to any adult adviser or a mentor and having immediate access to that person on a fairly open basis.”
Pascarella notes that residential education has several benefits for faculty such as experiencing campus life and the convenience of not having to commute in L.A. traffic. But he takes part in the program because he sees it first and foremost as a “service-oriented commitment.”
Trisha Tucker will join Pascarella as the second residential faculty member in McCarthy. It will be Tucker’s first year in the residential education program — as a professor, that is. Tucker was a USC honors student during her undergraduate years, where she was influenced particularly by her former residential faculty member and current USC professor Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Tucker’s overwhelmingly positive experience living in the honors college contributed greatly to her decision to become a residential faculty member herself.
“It was where I met my best friends throughout college and really where I got to feel like part of the USC community,” Tucker said. “I believe that the residential experience is really impactful for students and I wanted to be a part of that as a faculty member.”
Even though her position is competitive, Tucker said being a residential faculty member does not speak to everyone.
“It attracts a very specific type of professor,” Tucker said. “It can’t be the type of professor who wants to teach their expertise, teach the thing that they already know, and then go home. I think [residential educators] see teaching as not just an occupation but a calling and a lifestyle.”
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Former USC football star and Athletic Director Mike Garrett and his lawyers are filing a motion to dismiss a case against him alleging he sexually harassed a colleague working at Cal State Los Angeles.
The initial case against Garrett was filed Aug. 29, 2016 in the Los Angeles Superior Court by Cal State L.A. senior associate Shelia Hudson, who claimed Garrett referred to her and other female employees as “Babe,” “Sweetheart,” “Love” and “Legs” while serving as athletic director of CSULA.
Garrett and his lawyers have long denied the allegations, and last week filed papers asking for a dismissal of the trial citing lack of evidence. The hearing date regarding the motion to dismiss is set for Aug. 30.
Court papers filed by Garrett’s lawyers argue Hudson targeted Garrett because she felt the athletic director position was stolen from her after former director Dan Bridges retired in 2015.
Defense lawyers for Garrett have also suggested that he used “gender neutral terms of endearment” in addressing both men and women on his staff, including current athletic director Daryl Gross. According to the defense’s paperwork, three women who Hudson claimed were harassed were interviewed and determined to not have been insulted by Garrett’s words.
During depositions, Garrett said Hudson was missing from the office regularly, making it difficult to assess her skill set.
Hudson was sued by her former employer and three CSULA employees, alleging she secretly recorded conversations with them in 2016. In Hudson’s deposition, she admitted to using her cell phone to record conversations with three plaintiffs.
Hudson’s lawyer said her client may soon file a counter claim for wrongful termination.
Garrett, a Los Angeles native, went to Roosevelt High School and attended USC as a star halfback. He won the Heisman Trophy and was named UPI College Player of the Year in 1965 while playing for the Trojans. He played eight seasons in the NFL, for both the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. He retired after two AFL championships and a Super Bowl ring.
He then returned to Los Angeles and served a 17-season tenure as USC’s athletic director, during which he returned USC football to the national spotlight. Following USC president C. L. Max Nikias’ inauguration in 2010, it was announced that Pat Haden would replace Garrett.
Two Trojan alumni have been nominated for ESPY Awards after standout performances at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Allyson Felix became the most decorated American woman in Olympic track and field history last summer, which earned her a nomination for Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete. Swimmer Katinka Hosszu, who represented Hungary in Rio de Janeiro, is nominated for Best International Athlete.
Felix grabbed three medals in 2016 to raise her career total to nine, which tied Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey for most-ever in Olympic women’s track and field. She won two gold medals — in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays — and one silver in the 400m. The two gold medals gave her six total: the most in Trojan history. Rio was Felix’s fourth Games after competing in Athens, Beijing and London.
Felix actually never ran for USC. Despite committing to the Trojans in high school, she opted to sign a professional contract with Adidas to prepare for the 2004 Olympics. She still attended the University, however, and graduated in 2008 with a degree in elementary education.
On the other hand, Hosszu enjoyed a dominant Trojan career. She graduated in 2012 as a five-time NCAA champion, and she took home three of those titles in her junior season — becoming only the second swimmer to pull off the feat in program history. Hosszu also won the 2011 Honda Award, which is given to the nation’s top female collegiate swimmer.
Though she didn’t earn a medal at the previous three Games, Hosszu’s Olympic career is now similarly decorated after she won four medals — three gold, one silver — last summer. Hosszu smashed the world record in the 400m IM in the first day of swimming in Rio, and she set an Olympic record in the 200m IM three days later.
She also made a comeback in the final length of the 100m backstroke to win gold and notched a silver medal in the 200m backstroke, only missing out on another first-place finish by .06 seconds. No other swimmer at the Rio Olympics won more individual events.
Neither Hosszu nor Felix is a stranger to the ESPY Awards. Felix has been nominated for Best Track and Field Athlete three times, and she won the Best Female Track Athlete award in 2006. Hosszu, meanwhile, was nominated for Best Female College Athlete in 2011.
Voting for the ESPY Awards is currently open online, and the ceremony will take place on July 12 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The USC women’s soccer team announced its 2017 schedule last Tuesday, as the reigning national champions prepare to defend their first title under fourth-year head coach Keidane McAlpine. The Trojans have a challenging slate on tap this fall, matching up against eight teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year.
The team will raise its championship banner to open the new season at home against UC Davis on Aug. 18. Before the players officially begin their campaign, however, they will play two preseason exhibition games: one against UC Irvine at McAlister Field on Aug. 11 and another at Long Beach State two days later.
USC will play seven non-conference matches prior to kicking off Pac-12 play in late September. After facing UC Davis, the Trojans head east to take on two 2016 NCAA Tournament competitors, Missouri and Kansas, away from home. McAlpine’s squad then returns to Los Angeles to host Santa Clara — who advanced to the Elite Eight last year — as USC aims to avenge one of its four total losses from the previous campaign.
Finally, the Trojans face Iowa State at McAlister Field before wrapping up their non-conference schedule with games on the road against Loyola Marymount and San Diego.
“We have a non-conference schedule that will challenge our team and prepare us for the difficulties we will face in Pac-12 play,” McAlpine said. “I am very excited to see how this new mix of women are able to carry on the standards set by the 2016 national championship team.”
As is the case every year, USC is scheduled to play each of its 11 conference opponents once in 2017. The team begins with a tough road trip on Sept. 23 to challenge Utah, who pushed the Trojans to a double-overtime draw in Salt Lake City last fall. The two sides met again in the NCAA Tournament, and USC bounced the Utes from the bracket, advancing to the Sweet 16 thanks to a late goal from sophomore striker Leah Pruitt.
The team plays its Pac-12 home opener after the trip to Utah, as Oregon State visits McAlister Field on Sept. 28, followed by Oregon on Oct. 1.
Though the Pac-12 provides challenges every week, the Trojans will really run the gantlet near the end of the regular season. They will play rematches against the only two conference rivals to beat them last year — Cal and UCLA — with a game against perennial championship contender Stanford sandwiched in-between. USC will host the Bears and Cardinal at McAlister Field on Oct. 26 and Oct. 29, respectively, then conclude the regular season in Westwood on Nov. 3.
The Trojans prepare for the upcoming campaign after losing a key chunk of its championship core over the offseason. Five seniors were drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League, including Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year Sammy Jo Prudhomme and 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy finalist Morgan Andrews.
Striker Alex Anthony last year’s joint-top scorer on the team with 10 goals, returns for her redshirt senior season, however. Pruitt is back in the fold as well, after chipping in four goals and eight assists in 2016. With plenty of returning talent and a six-member recruiting class ready to cut its teeth, the Trojans will look to continue their championship form without skipping a beat this fall.